Exverpt from this Editorial of The Lancet:
When news came last week that several large publishers—including Elsevier (our publisher), Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, and Springer—had withdrawn journals from HINARI’s Bangladesh programme (and other countries too, such as Kenya and Nigeria, although the full extent of withdrawal remains unclear), there was a collective cry of betrayal. When challenged, one publisher, that of Science, immediately reversed its decision. Unknown to editors at The Lancet, our journals were also part of this withdrawal. Elsevier too, has now reinstated its journals into HINARI for Bangladesh. […]
Our view is that any country designated as “low human development” by the UN justifies a clear and unambiguous commitment by all publishers to full and free access to research through HINARI. Low human development means exactly that—high burdens of avoidable morbidity and mortality among the most vulnerable populations. Bangladesh’s maternal mortality ratio is 338 per 100 000 livebirths, Kenya’s 413, and Nigeria’s 608. In the UK it is 8. Free access to critical knowledge is vital if those countries are to address their huge burdens of preventable disease.
If publishers are genuine about their mission to improve health through partnerships with medical and research communities, they need to send a stronger signal of commitment to countries that most need the knowledge they control. For our part, we have asked Elsevier to assure us that the editors will be consulted on all future HINARI access negotiations involving The Lancet. That assurance has been given.
See also in The Lancet: “Big publishers cut access to journals in poor countries”