History of the VHL

The VHL is the result of the evolution of technical cooperation in health sciences information conducted by BIREME/PAHO/WHO since its creation, when it developed the essential functions of the Regional Biomedical Library, promoting the access to scientific and technical information, as well as the shared use of collections and services among libraries.


The collaboration of libraries to develop and offer information products and services was the strategy adopted by BIREME since its creation in 1967. The first collaborative service was the bibliographic commutation (supply of copies of documents). The first BIREME cooperation agreements with libraries were established in the early 1970s, and with the creation of LILACS, the network expanded to all countries of the region through cooperative libraries and coordinating centers.


At the end of the 1970's, this model expanded, adding to the library the function of information and indexing center, when BIREME took over the coordination of the bibliographic control of scientific and technical health literature in LA&C. This action was determinant to start the movement of systematic promotion of regional and international visibility of the scientific and technical production in health in the region. In 1982, this network became the Latin American and Caribbean System of Health Sciences Information, coordinated by BIREME.


In the late 1980´s, the functions of bibliographic control of scientific production and bibliographic search services began to be operated in a fully decentralized manner under the responsibility of cooperating organizations, strengthening national capacities in infrastructure and human resources for health information management.


From the 1990's on, with the expansion of Internet access, the model of information management and exchange of knowledge in health culminated in a new process of online operation of sources of information by cooperating organizations, allowing users' access to this data to be more agile. It is in this context the VHL was launched at the 4th Regional Congress on Health Sciences Information (CRICS4) held in San José, Costa Rica, in 1998, and approved by the LA&C countries through the Costa Rica Declaration "Hacia la Biblioteca Virtual en Salud" (Towards a Virtual Health Library).


With the emergence of the VHL as a model of strategy and information management based on decentralized, collaborative, and networked work, the name of the Latin American and Caribbean System on Health Sciences Information was gradually replaced by the Latin American and Caribbean Network on Health Sciences Information, or simply the VHL Network.

What is the VHL?

The Virtual Health Library (VHL) is an information management model based on collaborative and networked work, applied to the creation, organization and dissemination of information and scientific and technical evidence in the field of health, provided online for users to access through the VHL portals.


In this way, the VHL contributes to facilitate and promote broad access to scientific and technical information on health according to this model (VHL Model).

VHL Mission

To offer access to information and scientific evidence in health to users throughout the entire spectrum of health sectors, contributing to close the gap between knowledge and practice in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.