Dear Jan De Maeseneer,

“I think the African Journal for Primary Health Care and Family Medicine, started in 2008 with a Seed money from Belgium Development of 12000 Euro, and actually with Prof Bob Mash as Editor, provides an excellent example of what can be realised with vision, enthusiasm and skills.”

We have repeatedly heard on HIFA that local health research published in ‘local’ (national) journals is vital to inform ‘local’ policy and practice. Time and time again, we hear that practitioners and policymakers are persuaded only when they are provided with local evidence.

I find it hugely encouraging to read about the growing success of journals such as the African Journal for Primary Health Care and Family Medicine. It seems to me that an increasing number of African medical journals are flourishing, and indeed are doing so with an open-access business model. I would be interested to better understand this success and what has supported it. In the case of the African Journal for Primary Health Care and Family Medicine, it seems this has been seeded with a relatively modest amount of money (12,000 Euros). Other African journals are in twinning partnerships with journals in high-income countries in the African Journals Partnership Programme. Many (most?) African medical journals are also part of the African Journals OnLine (AJOL) programme, which was started by INASP and which is now run independently from South Africa. INASP has since replicated the AJOL approach in other regions and countries, including Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

I pay tribute to all these initiatives. Financially, their cost is (I think) minimal and yet they have had such a huge impact on the availability of local health research. And yet I suspect that the success of many individual journals is precarious. So what can be done to further strengthen local publishing in Africa and other regions worldwide?

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is the coordinator of the HIFA campaign (Healthcare Information For All – ) and current chair of the Dgroups Foundation (  Twitter: @hifa_org   FB: