The RHL was developed within the World Health Organization’s Programme to map Best Reproductive Health Practices and is the key tool used to disseminate evidence on the effectiveness of health care interventions within this Programme. The RHL has over 15,000 subscribers worldwide and many more users, and the WHO distributes over 20,000 CD-ROMs annually in English and another 10,000 in Spanish in low-income countries. The first Chinese version was published in 2004.
Now in its ninth year, the WHO Reproductive Health Library (RHL) has established itself as the most important medium for the provision of life-saving facts about reproductive health and obstetrics to health care workers throughout the world. Free CD-ROMs are delivered to over 3,700 RHL subscribers in Africa annually and numerous others access the Internet version.
This highly regarded multimedia resource now contains not only the gold standard in evidence about what works and what doesn’t, but also five complete videos showing key science-based techniques in real-life settings as well as a huge range of other resources. The topics covered are Pregnancy and Childbirth, Neonatal disorders, RTIs/STIs, HIV/AIDS, Fertility Regulation, Gynaecological cancer, Infertility, Gynaecology and Organization and Delivery of Care.
For every topic within the RHL there is a table that shows the interventions that have been shown to be effective, and those that have been shown to be harmful, with a gradient of effectiveness in between. This means that a practitioner can quickly check on an intervention to see whether it is to be implemented or avoided. Users know that this is a source they can trust, being totally independent of any pharmaceutical involvement and containing proven facts provided by the Cochrane Collaboration, which is renowned worldwide for its high standards and independence.
The full text of some 130 Cochrane Systematic Reviews is now included, each of which is on average about thirty pages long, giving the full explanation that includes all the relevant data. These are complemented by Plain Language Summaries of less than one page and Practical Aspects that show how the intervention might be implemented at different levels of care – e.g. in primary care in low-resource settings.
Other resources included in the RHL are the Lancet methodology and epidemiology series, editorials, WHO papers on the global maternal mortality burden, the Best Birth Initiative, a complete Training Course on evidence- based decision making in reproductive health and more.
The RHL was developed in 1997 within the WHO Programme to Map Best Reproductive Practices and is published annually in English and Spanish by Update Software, a small publishing company based in Oxford, England that specialises in delivering information for healthcare decision making. Chinese, French and Vietnamese versions are expected later in 2006. Access to either the CD-ROM or Internet version is free for residents of all countries on the UN list of less-developed and least-developed countries (link bitte auf www.rhlibrary.com/Lowincome.html). Richer countries purchase the RHL and this income pays for production. This enables both individuals and organizations in and low-middle and low-income countries to have no-cost access to the Internet-based as well as the CD-ROM versions of the RHL.