The World Health Organization (WHO)
Regional Office of the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) organized, in
collaboration with the Saudi Medical Journal, the First Regional
Conference on Medical Journals in Cairo, Egypt, from 7 to 9 October
2003. The conference was held at the premises of the Regional
Office. It was preceded by a one-day workshop for editors of medical
journals in the Region. The objectives of the conference were to:
the current status of medical journal publishing in the Region;
the problems and constraints facing medical journals in the Region;
guidelines for quality of medical journal publishing in the Region;
and propose a code of ethics for medical journal publishing in the
trends in journals publishing in the Region;
collaboration and networking among editors of medical journals;
The opening session of the conference was addressed by Dr Salah
Baghdadi, Director of Programme and Contracts Department, Medical
Services, Armed Forces Hospital, Riyadh, on behalf of the Saudi
Medical Journal. He noted the interest of the Saudi Medical Journal
not only in being a medium for publishing articles, but as a means
of education and academic leadership.
The Conference was inaugurated by Dr Abdullah Assa'edi on behalf of
Dr Hussein A. Gezairy, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern
Mediterranean In his message to the conference Dr Gezairy noted that
the convening of the Conference was a sign of recognition by the
Regional Office of the role that the medical journal plays in
promoting health research and in health care delivery. He said that
health care professionals in the Region made more use of information
provided by pharmaceutical companies and international journals than
they did of locally produced health information, although it was
estimated that over 400 medical journals are published in the
This raised important questions about, among other things, the
extent to which journals reflected the health and biomedical
research being conducted in the Region, the degree to which journals
contributed to solving the health problems in the Region, and the
seriousness with which academic and professional institutions
regarded medical journal publishing. A major concern in the Region,
said Dr Gezairy, was the under-representation of regional medical
journals in the international literature. The conference was an
effort to bring medical journals in the Region to the highest
attention of researchers, academics, decision-makers and planners.
The exchange of views, experience and sharing of future visions in
the next few days would form a basis for a regional development plan
for medical journals in the Region.
Conference sessions covered the status of and trends in medical
journal publishing in the Region, problems and constraints faced by
medical editors, quality and ethical issues, and promoting
networking and information dissemination. Four keynote presentations
were made on: published research in the Eastern Mediterranean
Region, a survey of medical journal publishing in the Region,
equitable access to scientific and technical information in health,
and quality of medical journals with special reference to the
Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal. In addition 23 papers were
presented on a wide range of subjects, reflecting the situation and
trends in different countries of the Region and the commonality of
problems faced by journal editors.
Around 80 participants attended the conference from 19 countries of
the Region and beyond. Participants included editors and staff of
regional medical journals, as well as other interested participants
from institutions in the Region.
The conference participants identified a need to improve skills
of editors and reviewers of regional medical journals. Need to
improve the quality of regional medical journals was noted and it
was felt that better representation of the regional journals in the
international indexing services would be instrumental in encouraging
this. Communication between the editors of the Region was also felt
to be vital to improving quality.
The participants also agreed on the need to establish an association
of medical editors in the Region. For this purpose, a coordination
committee for the establishment of the Eastern Mediterranean
Association of Medical Editors (EMAME) was convened. The committee
will gather information and will contact and invite editors of all
biomedical journals in the Region to participate in the association.
The committee will develop a constitution and practice guidelines.
It will also contact the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME)
and the Forum for African Medical Editors (FAME) to inform them of
their establishment as a sister association. A general assembly will
be called for at the next conference to approve the constitution.
The participants took special note of the establishment of FAME and
acknowledged the work that it has accomplished so far in developing
its constitution and editorial guidelines. The coordinating
committee will contact the Chairman of FAME regarding building on
its work in developing the EMAME constitution and guidelines. It was
agreed that Dr Basim Yaqub will coordinate the function of the
coordinating committee, and all members will contact their fellow
editors in their parts of the Region (see below for contact
The participants in the conference thanked the Regional Director and
the WHO secretariat for organizing and facilitating the conference
and pre-conference workshop, and for their support for the various
initiatives outlined in the recommendations. They also thanked the
Saudi Medical Journal and staff for their involvement in initiating
and organizing the conference.
The Saudi Medical Journal announced that it would publish the
proceedings of the conference, including the full papers, as a
supplement to its issue of January 2004 and offered to host the next
conference and workshop in Riyadh in November 2004, in collaboration
with WHO EMRO. A report of the meeting will be issued shortly by WHO
1. Training courses for editors of regional biomedical
journals and reviewers of such journals should be conducted on a
continuing basis at national and regional level.
2. Editors of regional medical journals should make efforts
to fulfil the necessary criteria for inclusion in international
indexing services and ensure that their journal is included in
national and regional indexes.
3. A regional association of medical editors should be
established, and the details developed by the coordination committee
for the establishment of the Eastern Mediterranean Association of
Medical Editors (EMAME) for presentation at the next conference.
4. Editors of regional medical journals should support the
coordination committee for the establishment of the Eastern
Mediterranean Association of Medical Editors (EMAME) by providing
ideas and relevant information and informing other editors of its
existence and the outcome of this conference.
5. A second regional conference on medical journals should be
held as soon as feasible and practical, and should again be preceded
by a regional training workshop. Successive conferences should
ensure that similar training opportunities are always included.
6. Editors of regional medical journals should exchange
existing training materials on medical editing and peer review
through the facility of the EMRO portal so that national courses can
be developed and/or enhanced.
7. Editors of regional medical journals should develop, as a
minimum, a web page for their journal in order to ensure journal
details are available for capture on the internet. Efforts should
then be made to develop their websites as resources permit.
8. The Regional Office should support national and regional
training activities for editors and reviewers of regional biomedical
9. The Regional Office should facilitate the improvement of
regional representation in international indexing services through
liaison with the services concerned.
10. The Regional Office should create a listserv for medical
editors in the Region to exchange information.
11. The Regional Office should establish a portal for
regional biomedical journals and a directory of regional medical
editors to enhance exchange of information in the Region.
12. The Regional Office should facilitate exchange and gift
programmes between medical journals and libraries in the Region.
Coordinating Committee and contact details
Dr Ahmed J. Jamal, Chief Editor, Journal of the Bahrain Medical
Society, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Farhad Handjani, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Medical
Research/Journal of Yasuj University of Medical Sciences, e-mail: email@example.com
Dr Maqbool Jafary, Chief Editor, Pakistan Journal of Medical
Sciences, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Basim Yaqub, Editor, Saudi Medical Journal, email: email@example.com
Dr Ahmed Said El Morsy, Chief Editor, Egyptian Journal of Histology,
Tel: +202 4848122
Dr Youssif M. Kordofani, Editor, Juba Medical Journal, Tel: +249
11271136, Fax: +249 11780166
Ms Jane Nicholson, Editor, WHO EMRO, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org