« Research4Life grants people a chance to live again »
Mr. Khutsafalo Kadimo, a well-experienced librarian and a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Botswana, joins Research4Life as the new Group B Country Representative. As research-support librarian at the Faculty of Medicine, Khutsafalo is responsible for encompassing research services and coordinates the reporting of research activities at the faculty. We caught up with him to learn more about his advocacy for Research4Life resources, and plans for the future of the Partnership.
What has been your journey at the University of Botswana?
I’ve been a practicing academic librarian since 2009 when I started working at Botswana College of Agriculture (now Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources) and, since 2013 I proceeded to be a librarian at the University of Botswana, the oldest higher education institution the country. My job at the Faculty of Medicine focuses especially on systematic review service, research consultation, software training, teaching Information Literacy, and bring-your-own-device initiatives. I’m also a researcher and an information consultant. I have a BA in Library and Information Studies, MA in Archives and Records Management, and now pursuing a PhD in Library and Information Studies.
Can you take us back to the beginning: how did you get to know Research4Life?
When I joined the University of Botswana in 2013, the Medical School was still new and we needed to recruit all the resources needed to support the programs and the research mandate. I was fortunate to attend training electronic library resources training on Research4Life and TEEAL Programmes in 2013 at the University of Botswana. Before that, I had already become interested in how to best resource the library thanks to the “Digital Library Practices & Information Technology Application for Knowledge Management” ITEC-sponsored course that I did in India, in 2011-12.
Part of your activities include a community service where you provide training to healthcare professionals – especially nurses, as they are at the core of primary and family healthcare in Botswana. What does this look like in your country?
Botswana has a network of health facilities – hospitals, clinics, health posts, mobile stops – in the 27 health districts. But there is still a serious shortage of medical doctors in the country, where we have about 0.3 doctors for every 1000 people (compare this with a country like Lithuania, which has a similar population, and ca. 5 doctors for every 1000 people). Especially in rural areas, healthcare system relies heavily on nurses to stabilize the family and primary healthcare: it’s easy for patients to see nurses, but the same cannot be said about medical doctors and specialists.
The University of Botswana, in partnership with the Library, decided to reach out to the nurses to offer them the tools they need to provide quality healthcare services, and Research4Life resources were identified as the solution. The approach we use is to group nurses in central locations, mostly referral hospitals, and we train them on how to access and use Research4Life resources, especially Hinari.
How have you developed the Information Literary program at your University, which includes Research4Life? How are the students using it?
At the Faculty of Medicine we use an embedded librarian approach with a “problem-based learning” curriculum – which means students learn and everyone, including the librarian, supports without divorcing the learning from the “problem at hand”. Thanks to this approach, the library information literacy modules are embedded in the medical education curriculum. The students benefit the most because information literacy is a core competency helping them to “learn how to learn” without having to stop learning medicine, and embedding “information literacy” into the issues they are dealing with.
Getting the right balance of bedside or point-of-care resources and research support resources has been a challenge. We may subscribe to certain resources but that is not without interruption, because we sometimes subscription budgets get cut.,Research4Life stabilizes our research support resources.
The workshop we facilitate for medical students, residents, and faculty creates great appeal for Research4Life resources, and ever since we introduced Research4Life and provided workshops, the inter-library lending service is less flooded by requests for full text from other libraries.
What are your plans and hopes for the future, now that you’ve been elected Group B Country Representative?
As much as WHO develops recommendations, protocols and guidelines, it should be known that evidence-based practice is not negotiable. Every country that adheres to the WHO standards should require that health information resources are made available for all, and Research4Life resources should be formally recognized as the “basic standard”.
Also, I hope that if we are to “put a library in the doctor’s and nurses’ pockets”, Research4Life may now push for bedside or point-of-care resources to improve the quality of healthcare decisions in real-time. Lastly, I want Research4Life to have initiatives intended to facilitate and develop group A and B country’s journals by partnering with them – and this can be implemented in other arms of Research4Life resources such as agriculture (AGORA), development and Innovation (ARDI), research in the environment (OARE), and research for global justice (GOALI).
And finally, what makes you passionate about Research4Life?
Research4Life does not only provide information, it improves the quality of life of ordinary people by improving research and the decisions we make as employees and policymakers. It grants people a chance to live again, delivers justice, improves production and productivity in the agriculture sector and lastly it supports the movement towards taking care of the universe which we call the environment. It is empowering and rewarding to offer a solution such as Research4Life.