The Virtual Health Library (VHL) Project was submitted by the Latin-American and Caribbean Health Sciences Information Center (BIREME/PAHO) at the 4th Regional Congress on Health Sciences (CRICS 4) in San José de Costa Rica in March 1998.

    The Virtual Health Library is accessible as a health scientific technical knowledge base, registered, organized and stored in electronic format of the countries in the region. The base is submitted to stringent quality controls, which guarantees its scientific content in compliance with common methodologies. Such model entails the adoption of a new organizational and information treatment paradigm.

    Women, maternal and perinatal health is a major problem in Latin-American and Caribbean countries. Figures analyses show that although there has been a decrease in infant mortality rates over the last decades, there have been insignificant changes in perinatal mortality rates, while maternal mortality rates are still alarming.

    Many of the behaviours that have proved efficient in perinatology and maternal care are not used in the region and measures that have proved to be inefficient or even harmful are still being applied.

    One of the causes of this state of affairs is the difficulty to access updated, responsible and adequate information concerning woman, maternal and perinatal health. Access to scientific information is an essential tool to improve health care quality.

    The Latin American Center for Perinatology, Woman and Reproductive Health  launched the Virtual Library as an institutional initiative in 2002.

    The  CLAP/WR VHL is currently facing the challenge of revision and repositioning  in association with prestigious institutions engaged in the promotion of a better life quality for women, mothers and children in the Americas.

    The goal is to guarantee the access to a relevant updated scientific-technical information sources concerning woman, maternal and perinatal health, fostering its use in scientific, educational activities and in health care and promotion among the professsionals, authorities and the general public in the sector.

    The CLAP/WR VHL has as fundamental objectives:

    • To guarantee better access to quality, relevant, updated scientific information to teachers, professionals, students and the general public in Latin America and the Caribbean;

    • To contribute to the management of information and knowledge concerning woman, maternal and perinatal health;

    This Virtual Health Library is part of the initiative implemented by regional and national health bodies to fulfil their commitment as subscribers to the Declaration of Costa Rica (1998), Havana-Cuba (2001), Puebla-México (2003), Salvador-Bahía , Brazil (2005) and Río de Janeiro , Brazil (2008) and Washington (2012).

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    The Latin American Center for Perinatology (CLAP), was created in 1970 by a group of professionals committed to preserving the health of the woman and her newly-born child, led by Prof. Roberto Caldeyro Barcia, through an agreement between the Ministry of Public Health of Uruguay, the University of the Republic of Uruguay and the Panamerican Health Organization ( PAHO ), WHO's Regional Office for the Americas. Therefore it has developed uninterrupted technical cooperation with the countries in the region for 40 years.

    The prestige enjoyed by the Center and its technical staff in the Continent's Health sector arises from its scientific, methodological and operational contributions with a history of achievements that have contributed to improving the health of the peoples of the Americas.

    The current social, technological and economic challenges in conjunction with the commitments and mandates of the countries, with clear-cut political aims as well as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals have led both organizations and governments to revise their policies and strategies to adapt to new circumstances. WHO and PAHO have joined this initiative; PAHO has been more actively involved in that process since 2004 under the supervision of Dr Mirta Roses, Director of the Organization.

    CLAP has undergone reorganization along PAHO's political and technical guidelines. Decentralization of Units and Programs has been approved by the Directing Bodies so that they are closer to the region's countries and to make technical cooperation cost-efficient.

    Therefore there was a merger between the Women and Reproductive Health Unit and CLAP and the new CLAP/WR unit was created thus achieving a critical professional team, which allows human and financial resources optimization and empowers their cooperation capacity.

    The responsibility assumed by the organization in general and CLAP/WR , in particular is based on the fulfilment of the member states' mandate, to promote the health of the peoples in the region and to implement UN's Millennium Development Goals, particularly those closely related to the Center's role (4,5,6)*

    Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

    1. To eradicate extreme poverty and famine
    2. To achieve universal primary education
    3. To promote sexual equality and the woman's autonomy
    4. To reduce child mortality rates
    5. To improve maternal health
    6. To fight HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
    7. To guarantee environmental sustainability
    8. To promote a world development associacion




    An organization with technical excellence and regional leadership, approaching knowledge generation and dissemination from a multidisciplinary perspective, it facilitates the development of policies and technologies and constructs with the countries in the region, the solutions to major problems in perinatal, woman and sexual health focused on the rights of the invidual to guarantee the life quality of the peoples of the Americas.


    To promote, strengthen and/or increase the capacity of the countries in the Americas to provide health care to the family, the woman and the newly-born child with the man's involvement, from the perspective of efficiency and justice by identifying and applying sustainable solutions, as part of the cooperation network, with a replication capacity, identifying, using and mobilizing their own resources and/or those of other organizations guaranteeing the best answer to each specific situation.


    Team work

    CLAP/WR-PAHO/WHO Strategic Approach  

    CLAP/WR-PAHO/WHO , as PAHO /WHO specialized center has considered it essential to construct together with other organizations in the Americas committed to the health of Women, mothers and the newly-born child a tool for the democratization of information, as the Virtual Health Library for Women, Maternal and Perinatal Health. In its  role of project coordinator, it will take each and every necessary step to foster development in compliance with the Regional cooperation requirements.


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  • CLAP/WR-PAHO/WHO VHL Consultantive Committee

    CLAP/WR-PAHO/WHO VHL Consultantive Committee

    The Consultative Committee is made up of the following institutions:

    • National Medical Library (BINAME/CENDIM);
    • Latin-American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME/PAHO)
    • Latin-American Center for Perinatology, Women and Reproductive Health ( CLAP/WR-PAHO/WHO )

    The Committee's purpose is to coordinate the harmonious development of Maternal and Perinatal VHL information sources, in compliance with the quality standards required by the regional project, selection of priorities, project follow-up and evaluation for permanent redefinition according to the circumstances.


    •To coordinate actions with the institutions in the region to strengthen the Women, Maternal and Perinatal VHL;

    •To contibute to the development of new information sources in cooperation with the  contries in the region;

    •To cooperate in order to achieve a better exploitation of human and material resources among the institutions participating in the VHL project in the region through inter-institutional agreements


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  • Statistics