Books for better health

Access to accurate, reliable information is absolutely crucial in order to deliver medical care and health education, yet around the world people cannot afford the books they need.

Many universities and medical schools lack the funds for either online or print resources and students are often reliant on textbooks with content that is more than 10 years out of date. Health professionals working in the field face similar challenges, especially in remote rural areas.

Supporting better health and medical care through books

To help meet this need we supply health and medical care books to our library partners in Africa. For many of the libraries we support, these books constitute the vast majority of their medical collections, and are an essential resource for health practitioners – from doctors and nurses to community health workers and traditional healers.

Books on medicine, health and social care from Book Aid International reach a wide variety of libraries and their users. Academic medical textbooks reach doctors, nurses, therapists and consultants in hospital libraries as well as students in universities and medical schools. Books on community care are used by midwives and other health practitioners in remote rural community libraries. Vocational textbooks in health and social care and social work help to train the carers of the future, while books on psychology and counselling skills find readers amongst prison staff and trainee teachers.

The books we send are donated by leading medical publishers such as Elsevier, JP Medical and SAGE, and range from handbooks for community nursing and social work to advanced specialist medical textbooks. Titles sent in 2015 included the classic textbook Kumar & Clark’s Clinical Medicine (Elsevier, 2013); Communication and Interpersonal Skills in Nursing (SAGE, 2015); and International Maternal and Child Health Care from Maternal and ChildHealth Advocacy International (2014).

The Tanzania Training Centre for International Health reported that  Global Surgery and Anesthesia Manual: Providing Care in Resource-Limited Settings, published in 2014 by Taylor & Francis, was the most popular book out of the 1,033 that we sent them in 2015.

Copies of the 2014 edition of Stockley’s Drug Interactions Pocket Companion donated by the Pharmaceutical Press are now on library shelves in hospital and community libraries in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cameroon, Somaliland and South Sudan.

Books for primary healthcare: Health Hubs in Kenya’s public libraries

Since 2010 Book Aid International has been working with Kenya National Library Service (knls) to develop health information hubs in 15 public libraries. Over 1,500 high quality, up-to-date books have so far been sent to knls for these Health Hubs (with new stock sent each year), and the librarians there have been trained to understand the needs of health workers and the role that public libraries can play in providing health information. These libraries are now seeing the benefits of the hubs not only for health workers but also for students and local communities.

Books for hospital libraries: Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania hospitals

In rural Tanzania small charity-run hospitals provide healthcare for the some of the poorest communities. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT) runs 24 of these hospitals, only three of which have libraries. We have been sending medical books to ELCT since 2006, and in 2011 we partnered with them to create new libraries, including new books and specialist librarian training, in their two most remote hospitals at Bulongwa and Lugala in southern Tanzania. In early 2016 the ELCT hospitals are set to receive a vital injection of brand new medical textbooks from Book Aid International.

Books for hospital libraries: supporting Regional Referral Hospital libraries in Uganda

In 2014 Book Aid International began work in Uganda to support better health information in regional referral hospitals (large hospitals that provide specialist care following referral from smaller primary care units). The project includes providing over 1,000 up-to-date medical and healthcare titles to the hospital libraries, which are then used by medical professionals in the hospital, helping them to improve their levels of care. Training is also provided for hospital library staff to ensure that medical staff can find the information they need. Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, in the north of Uganda, has already benefited from this project. A further three regional referral hospitals in Uganda will be involved with the project in 2016.

Books for training medical practitioners

Book Aid International supplies vital up-to-date textbooks to medical training institutions in several countries. These universities and colleges often do not have the funds to purchase such resources. Most books are published overseas and are costly to buy and to import.

In Tanzania the Training Centre for International Health (TTCIH) provides medical and healthcare training for a range of professions. It relies on book donations from Book Aid International to stock its library. Lack of funds meant that the library was only able to purchase 50 new books in 2014. To meet this need, we sent over 1,000 new books in 2015 to TTCIH for its library. Ms. Heka Mapunda, Information Resources Officer, told us:

Donated books from Book Aid International cannot be compared because they enabled TTCIH to successfully undertake most of its research, teaching and learning activities.”

The Kenya Medical Training College has 42 campuses, training doctors, nurses and other medical staff. However, in 2014 they had only enough funds to buy 400 new books for their entire network. In 2015, Book Aid International sent over 2,000 brand new textbooks to help to plug this knowledge gap.

In January 2015 Bindura University of Science Education in Zimbabwe lost over 3,000 books in a devastating flash flood. We responded by supplying 2,202 brand new health science textbooks donated by Elsevier. This donation, which included many core texts for their BSc Honours Degree in Nursing Education, helped the university to continue with its medical training programme.

Books to train nurses: Kamuzu College of Nursing, University of Malawi

Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) has been benefitting from regular book donations from Book Aid International since 2005. It has seen a three-fold increase in student numbers since 2010, but no increase in its library resource funding.  We sent 571 more new books in 2015, including titles such as  An Introduction to Research for Midwives (Churchill Livingstone, 2011); Practical Leadership and Management in Healthcare: For Nurses and Allied Health Professionals (Pearson, 2013); and Introducing Psychology for Nurses and Healthcare Professionals  (Pearson, 2010), all of which were placed on short loan by lecturers due to their usefulness and scarcity.

2017 in numbers

We are very optimistic that this is the beginning of a knowledge revolution in our hospital for both our staff and students of Gulu University who use this hospital for learning. THE STORY OF GULU HOSPITAL LIBRARY

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