The HIFA Strategy

The HIFA Strategy will take us through 2015 and beyond towards the HIFA Vision: Every person and every health worker will have access to the healthcare information they need to protect their own health and the health of those for whom they are responsible.

‘The development of reliable, relevant, usable information can be represented as a system that requires cooperation among a wide range of professionals including health-care providers, policy makers, researchers, publishers, information professionals, indexers, and systematic reviewers. The system is not working because it is poorly understood, unmanaged, and under-resourced.’
Godlee F, Pakenham-Walsh N, Ncayiyana D, Cohen B, Packer A. Can we achieve health information for all by 2015? Lancet 2004;364(9430):295-300

The global healthcare knowledge system

Figure 1: The global healthcare knowledge system

The HIFA Strategy (below) promotes (1) communication, (2) understanding and (3) advocacy among all those involved in the production, exchange and use of healthcare knowledge. It does this through (1) HIFA Forums, (2) HIFA Voices, and (3) HIFA Advocacy Programme:

The HIFA Strategy

Figure 2: The HIFA Strategy (click on the graphic to expand)

Note: ‘Action’ represents the global healthcare knowledge system as described at the top of this page.

In 2006, the HIFA members came together and jointly created the HIFA2015 Foundation Document. At that time, we were hopeful that by 2015 we would realise our vision of a world where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare knowledge. However, we were able to secure resources only for delivery of the first part of our strategy (HIFA Forums), and we also soon recognised that HIFA is a multi-faceted goal with many indicators, some of which are not available.

Our new strategy (2013 onwards) replaces the time-bound HIFA Goal with HIFA SMART Goals. These goals will be defined by the HIFA members, and they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

The 1st HIFA SMART Goal was ratified by the HIFA Steering Group on 24 April 2013:

“By 2015, at least one telecoms provider, in at least one country, will endorse the vision of Healthcare Information For All, and will provide free access to essential healthcare knowledge in the local language, preloaded on all new mobile phones they may sell and freely downloadable to all those who already have a mobile phone.”

The HIFA members are currently identifying other HIFA SMART Goals. As we define, promote and achieve our HIFA SMART Goals, we shall move progressively closer towards the HIFA Vision: A world where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare knowledge.

The role of HIFA will be to harness the power of our growing network to identify and promote the HIFA SMART Goals. For each SMART Goal we shall:
1. collate information from HIFA members and others about relevant current and planned activities
2. encourage sharing of experience and lessons learned
3. agree indicators and monitor progress
4. provide the enabling global environment for the achievement of the Goal.

Our role is to stimulate and catalyse any current and future initiatives by HIFA members and others that are relevant to the achievement of the Goal.

The SMART Goals will be realised by the three components of the HIFA Strategy as further described below.

1. HIFA Forums: Promoting communication among providers and users of healthcare information

HIFA members represent all stakeholder groups involved in the creation, exchange and use of information: health professionals, producers of reference and learning materials, librarians, technologists, researchers, policymakers, and the general public. Members interact via five email discussion forums: HIFA, CHILD2015, HIFA-Portuguese, HIFA-EVIPNet-French, and HIFA-Zambia.

2. HIFA Voices: Building a picture of information needs and how to meet them

HIFA Voices is a knowledge base – currently in prototype – that captures the experiential knowledge of HIFA members, as expressed on the HIFA Forums. HIFA Voices are selected verbatim extracts that provide nuggets of understanding of information needs of citizens and health professionals, and how these needs can be addressed.

3. HIFA Advocacy Programme

The HIFA Advocacy Programme uses the experiential knowledge of HIFA Voices to:

  • support evidence-based advocacy
  • hold governments to account regarding their legal obligation to improve the availability of healthcare knowledge
  • provide WHO and other leading international health organisations with valuable additional information sources to help formulate policy and practice guidelines
  • provide publishers, librarians, ministries of health and others with experiential knowledge to inform and improve their effectiveness in the provision of healthcare information
  • convince funders to invest more, and invest smarter, in healthcare information activities worldwide.


The HIFA Forums, Voices and Advocacy Programme are available to all HIFA members (and others) to help them to be more effective in their (independent and ongoing) action as providers and/or users of healthcare information. Note that HIFA does not itself serve as a provider of healthcare information (although there is incidental sharing of useful publications and services). There is indeed no single solution to the challenge of healthcare information. A broad, inclusive approach is needed to build on the strengths, and address the weaknesses, of the global healthcare knowledge system as a whole, and its component processes and actors.

Join us!

In addition to our 10,000 members, more than 100 HIFA volunteers worldwide contribute their time and expertise to help with moderation, publicity, technical expertise, translation, and administration. HIFA is officially supported by more than 170 leading health and development organisations worldwide, and 22 of these organisations also provide an annual financial contribution.

We do not know how long it will take to realise our vision, but we do know that huge progress is possible and necessary, with enormous potential benefits to global health. We invite you to join us.