About the Belize VHL
About the VHL Project
The Belize VHL initiative was launched by PAHO/WHO Belize in October 2003 as a means of joining the expanding network of Internet libraries on health sciences information throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. This initiative is intended for users countrywide and regionally with assured universal access to scientific and technical information.
The Belize VHL is a collaborative project with several national institutions and organizations. The project represents an innovative expansion of PAHO’s technical cooperation model in the area of scientific and technical information in the last decade.
The VHL is an initiative of BIREME, a specialized centre of PAHO for Latin America and the Caribbean on Health Sciences Information, involving hundreds of institutions, especially libraries and documentation centers, which provide health sciences related information products and services in a network format.
The Belize VHL will reflect the full range of services including local and regional bibliographic databases on health, disaster preparedness and the environment.
Apart from not needing physical space to house its information, the VHL has other essential features similar to a conventional library. The collection of materials is catalogued, indexed and stored in an organized fashion while maintaining standards and methodologies for its development and operation. The collection also provides mechanisms for evaluation and quality control of information sources.
The VHL was established on the principle that access to relevant scientific and technical information is a precondition for the development of health; and that countries need to radically improve their capacity to produce, operate and disseminate scientific and technical information sources. Guided by this principle, the VHL is designed to provide information from local, regional and international sources. The locally accessed service will also support education and decision-making processes, news flow, discussion forums, list servers and virtual communities.
The project followed an agreement by national institutions to adopt the VHL methodology, and to collaborate on sub-projects designed to ensure its success. To facilitate the process a National Committee was established with membership from the Ministry of Health, the University of Belize, PAHO/WHO Belize, Nurses Association of Belize, Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, the National Library Service as Executive Coordinator, Belize Family Life Association, National Drug Abuse Control Council, Department of the Environment, Belize Agriculture Health Authority, Coastal Zone Management Agency, and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Committee is designed to serve as an editorial body that defines priorities, orients members, identifies responsibilities and mobilizes resources. A plan (VHL Matrix) has been formulated for developing specific projects to be undertaken by the member institutions.