telnet://gopher.who.ch:23/ login: gopher
WHO Internet Gopher Root Server Administrator
Information Technology Office (ITO)
World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters
CH-1211 Geneva 27
Health policy analysts have been given a powerful new tool in the form of the World Health Organization (WHO) gopher server. Although many areas of this server are still under development, it is already a significant information source for health policy and international health researchers. Highlights include WHO press releases, immunization statistics, AIDS information, communicable disease incidence information, and a database of WHO documents (many of which are not available in print form).
Oriented to the health policy watcher, the WHO gopher server organizes information largely by programme, although there are significant menu structures on news and the World Health Organization itself. There is some redundancy in the server's organization, for instance in the press releases and some of the statistical information, but the arrangement by programme can be misleading for the user who is unfamiliar with the WHO organizational structure. For instance, immunization information occurs under two different programmes, "Communicable Diseases (CDS)" and the "Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI)".
Despite this difficulty (one frequently encountered by gopher users), the WHO gopher server has much to offer users who are not health policy mavens. Librarians as well as policy analysts will find the WHO Bibliographic Database a useful resource for identifying or verifying a wide range of WHO publications dating as far back as the mid eighties and including many unpublished sources. Demographers and epidemiologists will be pleased by the wealth of statistical information provided on disease incidence, immunization (mentioned previously), family planning, and tropical diseases. The only difficulty is that the tables cannot be reasonably viewed by most gopher clients but must be either sent to an account via electronic mail or downloaded for viewing. For those monitoring the global AIDS epidemic will find abundant sources of information here including a searchable database of AIDS-related WHO publications. Finally, the wealth of news information in the form of press releases, statements, newsletters and a variety of other items will provide something for just about anyone looking for source material on current events. In total these diverse resources provide a basis for many lines of research by many types of scholars and students.
Karla L. Hahn
Internet Services Librarian
Welch Medical Library, Johns Hopkins University
January 9, 1994