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Table 1 The HIFA2015 and CHILD2015 forums and the TBA discussions – background information

From: Stakeholder views on the incorporation of traditional birth attendants into the formal health systems of low-and middle-income countries: a qualitative analysis of the HIFA2015 and CHILD2015 email discussion forums

HIFA2015 was launched in Kenya in 2006 and explores the healthcare information needs of providers in low- and middle-income countries and how these can be met. The purpose of CHILD2015 is similar, but the campaign focuses more on healthcare for children and on the health rights of children. Members of HIFA2015 and CHILD2015 interact on email discussion forums, and together they have a combined membership of more than 8,000 people based in a total of 170 countries. These forums are supported by the Dgroups Foundation, a partnership of 18 international development organizations (

This wide membership greatly influences the discussion topics on the forums – these topics often extend beyond the forums’ formal remit of “information needs” to include diverse aspects of health such as the delivery of healthcare in various contexts, medical education, human resources for health and mobile health.

The forums use a process known as Reader-Focused Moderation and this has been described in detail elsewhere [20]. This approach creates a vibrant, dynamic atmosphere, and allows topics to emerge which are of interest to the forum members.

Forum membership is diverse and includes healthcare providers, clinical students, librarians, academics, policymakers, publishers, researchers, information technologists, social scientists and other professionals from 170 countries. The organizations represented range from Ministries of Health to village health committees, from universities to primary schools, as well as intergovernmental organizations and international and local NGOs, and private and public sector providers.

The TBA topics were started mainly by the members themselves. The discussion was episodic: each episode (or topic thread) included up to 50 messages and grew over a period of weeks. Forum messages are archived automatically at and However, the search and retrieval process from the archive is cumbersome and the researchers used a parallel archive instead which was created by the moderator and kept in a separate email folder.