Health professionals in low-income countries often have difficulty accessing the kind of accurate, up-to-date health information that we in the UK take for granted. Working with limited or outdated clinical texts significantly affects the quality of medical education and leads to poorer health outcomes for the most vulnerable globally. At a moment when the world is griped by a deadly new virus, access to the latest high-quality information has never been more vital.
Improving access to high-quality health information is also essential to achieving the UN SDGs (sustainable development goals) by 2030. As we kick-start a decade of action to deliver these crucial improvements, the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to reverse hard-won gains on key SDG targets – from reducing maternal and infant mortality to ensuring universal access to contraceptive services and ending epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases.
We face challenging times for health workers everywhere, but the burden falls disproportionately on those with the fewest resources, and decades of progress on international development hang in the balance.
For the past 20 years, the BMA Information Fund has supported not-for-profit health institutions operating in the most resource-limited settings worldwide. We have made more than 330 donations of accessibly written, locally relevant health books and other educational materials to organisations in 71 countries. These books have provided seed collections for health libraries in post-conflict zones, replenished university libraries destroyed by fire, helped to establish the first medical training and specialty programmes in several African countries and resourced government centres for disease control and prevention.
Our fund is changing with the times. This year we are incorporating more digital resources, reflecting the fact that computer and internet access continues to expand across the countries we serve. We are also sourcing resources to help combat COVID-19, such as development resources focused on WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene). In all, we’ve added nearly 150 new resources on topics requested by our recipients and members.
The BMA’s network of international medical graduates and associations representing the medical diaspora are absolutely vital to helping us reach eligible overseas organisations. International doctors are development actors with strong links and deep insight bridging the global north, south, east and west.
As we mark the fifth anniversary of the SDGs, we ask all of our members to take a moment to consider who in your wider network may be able to benefit from an Information Fund donation. Please help us spread the word so that as many deserving organisations as possible can benefit.
- The fund is open for applications from Friday 25 September. Applications will close on Friday 6 November 2020.
- We can only accept a total of 100 applications, so we encourage interested organisations to apply as early as possible to ensure they do not miss out on this opportunity.
- Successful applicants will be informed by 18 December 2020 and books will be dispatched from January 2021 onwards.
- For more information and to apply
Terry John is BMA international committee chair