About the VHL

The Virtual Health Library is a result of the evolution in the technical cooperation in health sciences information exchange conducted by BIREME/PAHO/WHO since its creation in 1967. Initially, this model of technical cooperation has been guided by the essential features of a regional biomedical library, promoting the strengthening and shared collections and services between libraries. By the end of the 1970’s this model has expanded, assembling to the library the role of indexing information centre. This action has been determinant to the beginning of the systematic promotion of regional and international visibility of the technical and scientific output in health from Latin America and the Caribbean.

By the end of the 1980’s, the bibliographic control of scientific output and bibliographic research services started to be operated in a decentralized way under the responsibility of each country, strengthening the national human resources and infrastructure capacities in knowledge management. At that time, LILACS started to be cooperatively fed, receiving contributions from all countries.

From the 1990’s on, this model of knowledge management and exchange converged to the new internet paradigm as means of producing technical and scientific information sources, in which an intensive decentralization process prevails.  In 1998 the VHL is then established, during the IV Regional Congress on Health Sciences Information (CRICS4) in San José, Costa Rica, through the Costa Rica Declaration “Towards the Virtual Health Library”.

In Brazil

In 1999 took place the two first national meetings for the development of VHL instances in Brazil: the VHL Adolescent Health (May, 1999) and the VHL Public Health (November, 1999). These projects were boosted in 2000, with the establishment of a Cooperation Term (TC12) for the implantation of the project “Virtual Health Library for Adolescent Health and Public Health”, signed between the Ministry of Health in Brazil and the Brazilian representation of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The TC12 was extended to July 2010, and boosted a series of actions for the development of the VHL in Brazil and the VHL Model as a whole.

Alongside, a series of thematic networks that already had the role of bibliographic control of specialized areas in LILACS (such as Odontology, Nursing and Psychology) started to converge to the VHL Model and started to create their own instances. In addition to that, specific projects were being developed by national health institutions, which triggered the onset of new thematic areas in Brazil.

Thus, Brazil occupies a position of high impact and leadership in the development and operation of the VHL, displaying the greatest absolute number of instances in the VHL Network. It is also noteworthy the active participation of this country in the south-south technical cooperation and in the leadership of regional initiatives like the Regional VHL History and Cultural Heritage of Health, the Regional VHL Psychology (ULAPSI), the ePORTUGUESe Network and the Regional VHL Nursing (under development).

it is in this scenario that, in September 2008, was launched the portal of VHL Brazil during the CRICS8/VHL5, which took place in Rio de Janeiro. This release was a result of the partnership between the Brazilian representation of PAHO and Ministry of Health in Brazil. The portal emerged with the objective of converging Brazilian thematic VHL networks and integrating their information sources, strengthening them and providing them more visibility.

In October 2009 was constituted the Technical Committee of VHL Brazil, formed by the coordinators of Brazilian certified instances.

BIREME/PAHO/WHO – December 14, 2010