A dream becoming a reality
The Cochrane Library is now available free to all Australians who have Internet access. At the 3rd Annual Meeting for Australasian Contributors to the Cochrane Collaboration, held in Melbourne in October this year, the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing announced this important milestone — universal access to high-quality health information. Just as ready access to "clean" drinking water has come to be seen as a public health milestone of the 19th century, so, in the future, ready access to "clean" health information might well be dubbed as a major public health achievement of this century. The United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as several other countries in Europe, also have free access and the Library is also available free to developing countries. Such access will have a direct impact on satisfying clinicians' daily information needs, and an indirect impact on their practices through the information accessed by patients, consumer organisations, policymakers, and others. So where will this lead us? To understand some of the implications requires an understanding of both the history and the future of the Cochrane Collaboration.1
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