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Afr Health Sci. 2005 Sep;5(3):246-54.

Crossing the digital divide: the contribution of information technology to the professional performance of malaria researchers in Africa.

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  • 1National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894, USA.



The US National Library of Medicine supports the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) through the design, implementation, and operation of the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria Communications Network (MIMCom.) MIMCom makes possible enhanced access to the Internet and to medical literature.


The main objectives of the present study were to examine the use of MIMCom supported information technology (IT) by scientists, students, and administrative personnel to facilitate communication, retrieve information, obtain documents, write proposals, and prepare papers for publication; and to determine the contribution of this intervention to their professional performance.


The authors analyzed the contribution of enhanced Internet connectivity and access to electronic information resources to the performance of malaria research staff and their institutes through a cross-sectional questionnaire survey of 181 respondents at 14 health research centers in Africa. Separate reviews of bandwidth usage, requests for document delivery, and publications in peer reviewed journals support the data of the survey.


The MIMCom network makes a positive contribution to the performance of malaria researchers and support staff at the sites reviewed by improving e-mail exchange, access to published literature, and research proposal development and submission. Implications of these findings are discussed.


By providing full access to the Internet and the resources of the WorldWide Web, MIMCom has been shown to be invaluable to malaria researchers and their institutes in Africa. This access has increased visibility of scientists in their respective institutions and provided opportunities for stronger engagement with the international scientific community.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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