This initiative strengthened the libraries and information centers in several areas:
- Technological Infrastructure (Internet connectivity and computer equipment)
- Information Management (Training of health science librarians)
- Information Product Development (Digital Library, Web site development)
Each Disaster Information Center has a server, two computers, an uninterruptible power supply, a scanner, and a reliable 128K Internet connection. The servers allow the Centers to implement a web site and online databases. The initiative also upgraded the equipment and Internet connection at CRID.
Information Management Training
Over the past three years, the health science librarians attended four training courses held in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Bethesda, MD. These training courses prepared the librarians for developing and managing health-related disaster information collections, web sites and databases, accessing various online resources (including NLM databases), and creating and providing access to electronic documents.
Information Product Development
All of the centers have created project web sites. These web sites describe the initiative and provide links to important disaster-related databases and other resources available from CRID. Visitors to the web sites can also access health resources from NLM and BIREME, the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information.
CRID, with NLM assistance, created a digital library of key documents related to health and disasters. This library has over 4,000 full-text documents that are available on the CRID web site, from each of the participating centers, and on CD-ROM. These documents include technical reports and assessments concerning disasters and the management of health systems, health facilities, infectious diseases, environmental health, and humanitarian assistance. Many of the documents were prepared by government agencies, the World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, and other non-governmental organizations.
All of the participating centers are marketing the services of their Disaster Information Centers to health professionals and others working in disaster prevention and mitigation activities.
In the long term, the establishment of these disaster information centers should facilitate the development of improved disaster prevention and mitigation activities in the participating countries. Not only will this positively affect health by providing access to timely and accurate health information, it can also contribute to economic growth and social development. CRID is now developing a Disaster and Health Information ToolKit to encourage the development of Disaster Information Centers in other parts of Latin America.