Improving knowledge and skills in accessing health information in Africa


Information literacy has become an essential requirement in today’s world of information and technology. Access to right and accurate information is a prerequisite to good health. The wordliteracy therefore goes beyond the traditional definition of knowing how to read and write. Health information literacy is crucial in ensuring all those involved with health including researchers, healthcare providers and medical consumers know how to find, use and manage health information. An American Scientist rightfully stated “we are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices widely”.


There is a serious lack of awareness of the resources as well as skills deficit in using information search resources and tools. The main objective of this training therefore is to raise the level of awareness of the electronic information resources and to improve on the information retrieval skills.The present course entitled “Finding, Organizing, and Using Medical Information” is the gate to improving knowledge and skills in accessing health information.Whether you are a doctor, a nurse, a health professional or a medical librarian, this course provides answers to the most crucial questions that arise while searching for health information. These questions range from: What information sources are available? What tools are available for searching the web? What techniques do you apply when searching the web? How do you manage and store information once retrieved? How do you evaluate information so as to use what is accurate? How do you use information? … The instructorswill provide answers to these key questions so as to ensure that looking for information does not become a frustrating task and that the right information is retrieved, stored and used. The workshop program will be trying to answer various issues surrounding information retrieval and the attendee will gain a lot from this invaluable resource.


Finding, organizing and using health information is designed to be a training course for students, researchers and health workers and to provide a broad foundation in health sciences information services. The purpose of the workshop is also to build capacity within the academic community and in health care related sectors in finding, organizing and using health information for better health outcomes. The intended audience comprises health sciences students, faculty, healthcare professionals, policy makers, and medical librarians.


The course consists of 5 sessions:

  • Session 1- Information Sources
  • Session 2- Searching Tools
  • Session 3- Searching Techniques
  • Session 4-Management of Information
  • Session 5-Evaluation of Information
  • Session6: Searching Evidence Based Medicine Resources



Session 1: Information sources

Information is power and an essential ingredient in decision-making.  To obtain timely, relevant and quality information for your study or research work, you need to know the various sources of information available. Learning Objectives include the definition, type and formats of information sources.
Session Two: Searching Tools

There are various searching tools available to health professionals in both print and electronic formats. These include, among others: Online Public Access Catalogues, indexes, search engines, gateways, databases, portals, subscribed journals, free electronic journals, and institutional repositories (IRs).One of the most used database in medicine and allied health is MEDLINE through PubMed. At the end of this module, you should be able to define what a searching tool is, to define search engine (and their types) and be able to use selected health oriented search engines and Search MEDLINE/PubMed database.


Session 3: Electronic Information Searching Technique

Information available and accessible online is massive. To make maximum use of this information and to avoid frustration while looking for relevant information, the user should have search skills that include being familiar with search techniques. The use of search techniques and strategies aims at helping the user retrieve relevant and quality information.The student will learn aboutthe types of information searches, the importance of search preparation, the formulation of search strategies andthe types of search techniques. On completion of the module, one should be able to distinguish between simple, advanced and meta searches, plan for a search session, formulate search strategies, select the appropriate search tool for the required information and apply search techniques to various search tools.


Session 4: Management of Information

In the course of learning, teaching and research, information accessed from diverse sources accumulates. Without a proper information management practice; such information may be difficult to find and later locate. In certain instance some people may print the same documents again and again, or search for the same information every time they need it. As a consequence there is a need for this information to be organized so that it becomes easily accessible.  This module discusses tools and techniques for collecting, storing, organizing and using information. In this module we willexplain the benefits of good organization of information,present referenced management tools, and discuss information management techniques.


Session 5: Evaluating Electronic Resource

In the medical field decisions based on wrong information can lead to life threatening and fatal consequences. It is therefore important to evaluate the information needed for the purpose of decision making. The need to evaluate information becomes more important in the context of plethora of online resources. This need arises because the Internet does not have an editorial board that controls and validates its content. This module discusses the criteria and process of evaluation of online information.

In this module we’ll discuss the importance of evaluating information,present criteria for evaluating information, and describe how to evaluate different sources of information.


Session 6: Searching Evidence Based Medicine Resources

Comprehensive presentation of new findings from research against the background of what is already available is essential to meet doctors’ needs for evidence during clinical consultations: which interventions work, which don’t work, which are additional or alternative, which need more investigation, and which might be harmful. For internet based information in particular, doctors and health professionals expect to rapidly find the latest knowledge to answer their information needs. Using the clinical question at hand, one starts by formulating an answerable question for clinical therapeutic, diagnostic, prognostic or etiologic problems, which then is followed by identifying the best applicable literature (evidence) to answer the clinical question. This is done by consulting various EBM resources such as PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Trials register. This evidence needs to be further critically appraised, the results interpreted and applied into clinical practice.





The course consists of 5 sessions:

  • Session 1- Information Sources
  • Session 2- Searching Tools
  • Session 3-Electronic Information Searching Techniques
  • Session 4-Management of Information
  • Session 5-Evaluation of Information
  • Session6: Searching Evidence Based Medicine Resources





This training is primarily designed for bioinformatics users who want to increase their efficiency in searching, navigating, managing, analyzing and evaluating health information using available tools and resources.





Lectures and hands-on sessions will be given in English. If possible some sessions can be given in French. Discussion and questions are allowed in French.



Intended Audience


This one-week course is designed for individuals, particularly those based in biomedical and biological institutions, interested to learn, the most efficient ways for health information search and use. The target includes scientists from different fields including Biologists, Physicists, MDs, from various levels including researchers, educators, graduate students, and other scientific staff.


Participant profile and Selection criteria


The subject matter is suited for researchers, masters of biology, PhD students, MDs, MD candidates or last year students in a broad range of disciplines: computer science, biology, agricultural engineering, medicine, pharmacy etc… Candidates will be asked to provide information on their personal tasks and field of research. Good knowledge of the English language is a prerequisite.The number of candidates for the course is limited to 60 persons. The registration into the course will be provided on the first come first served basis, provided the selection committee accepted the application candidates. Evidence of involvement in research in Health or related fields must be provided. Those accepted will be informed by October15th, 2013.



Travel fellowships


Travel Fellowship funds for students coming from other far Moroccan cities will be provided to help them to attend the workshop. These travel fellowships are supported through funds from NLM. Special registration grants for foreign attendees are available on need basis. The number of these grants is limited and will depend on sponsors’ donations. Those who are interested are asked to send their request and justification by email to contact@biomedicalintelligence.org . Applicants from Africa and Middle-East are also encouraged as they will be taken in charge provided they are willing to pay for their travel. Interested candidates are invited to apply and send their CV at the time of online registration.


Number of Participants

Theoretical and Practical classes: Maximum 40


Workshop materials


Lecture notes (Digital Copies) and information packagewill be provided. The attendees will be given a copy of the PowerPoint slides.  The participants are asked to bring their laptops equipped with a Mobile connection for tutorials and hands-on sessions. A certificate of attendance will be provided.




Ms. OuafaeKchibel, informationist and librarian at the National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco, received her BA from the Information Sciences School of Rabat. She has a solid background in informatics. Since she is working at the National Library of Morocco she developed even more her skills in the general area of information search including medical sciences. Ms. Ouafae has conducted several training throughout Morocco.

Ms. Abda Anna


Ms. Kamal Marzouki is a MD.



Material Course






Organizing Committee

Ghazal Hassan, PhD., University Mohammed First, Oujda/Nador, Chair

MARZOUKI K Kamal, MD Intern,



AllaliImane, PhD candidate, Faculty of Sciences, Rabat, Co-Chair

BOUKHATEM Noureddine, PhD., Faculty of Sciences of Oujda, Oujda

Souilmi Yassine, PhD Student, Faculty of Sciences, Rabat

CHAQSARE Souad, National Institute of Hygiene, Rabat



From USA:

National Library of Medicine (NLM, NIH,Bethesda,MD,USA)

From Morocco:

Polydsciplinary Faculty of Nador

University Mohammed First, Oujda/Nador

Moroccan Society for Telemedicine and eHealth

Faculty of Sciences, University Med V-Agdal, Rabat