World Health Organization goes open access

The World Health Organization (WHO) has rolled out its open access policy which comes into effect from 1 July 2014. Under the policy, research authored or co-authored by staff of WHO or funded by WHO will have to be published in an open-access journal or a hybrid open-access journal (a subscription journal that gives authors provision to pay to have their articles published as open access, under a creative commons licence).

Without a doubt, the new WHO open access policy is a step in the right direction as it will make the organization’s health research outputs more accessible for use by governments, policymakers, researchers and community health practitioners, among other audience groups.

In fact, one may argue that, from a moral standpoint, WHO’s research findings on health should, by default, be freely available and accessible for the benefit and well-being of society, bearing in mind what WHO is responsible for: “providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends”.

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