Finding country-related information in the ITG library



Country-related statistics that are both recent and more or less detailed are often not easy to find (assuming they do exist). The following lists a number of potential sources. Not all countries are covered equally well in most sources. More specific information (e.g. related to a province or a district) is generally not included in these sources. For some of them, data may be included in specific books or journal articles, but this will be the exception rather than the rule.


General country-related information and statistics can be found in several series that have been brought together in the Reference Section of the ITM library:


·        United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) [] :

č              Human Development Report: annual statistics on basic human development, demography, urbanization, aid-flows, equity and poverty, nutrition, survival, female emancipation, health profile, education, economics, energy, North-South relations…


·        World Bank []  : general information with a focus on economics and finance:

č              World Development Report: annual statistics on economic development (GNP…), macroeconomic indicators, labour force, demography, urbanization, health indicators, education, energy, resources, environment, agricultural productivity…

č              Development Indicators: basic indicators, finance, trade, debt, agriculture, transport, aid flows, social and environmental indicators, household welfare…

č              Health, Nutrition and Population Indicators: health expenditures and financing, health services and their utilization, key development, mortality, fertility, ageing, malnutrition…


·        World Health Organization (WHO) []  : general information with an emphasis on public health:

č              World Health Report: basic statistics with each year a different focus.

č              World Health Statistics Annual (up to 1996): causes of death and mortality trends.

č              Implementation of the Global Strategy for Health for All by the Year 2000: countries listed by WHO region, progress pertaining to the Health for All programme [mostly out of date by now].


·        Southeast Asian Medical Information Center (SEAMIC) :

č              SEAMIC Health Statistics: (pertaining to 8 countries: Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand & Vietnam) annual demographic and vital statistics, causes of death, mother and child health, morbidity from infectious diseases, nutrition, environmental health, socio-economic situation, medical establishments, human resources for health…


·        Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) []  :

č              Health (Conditions) in the Americas: general health information for each country in the Americas, incl. the Caribbean.

č              Health Conditions in the Caribbean: the same, but limited to the Caribbean

č              Health Statistics in the Americas: statistics on health in early childhood, mortality (causes, age-groups, gender)…


·        United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) []  :

č              The State of the World’s Children: information and basic indicators concerning children, their nutrition, health and education; also general demographic and economic indicators; women’s empowerment…


·        United Nations (UN) []  :

č              Demographic Yearbook: very detailed statistics pertaining to demography.

č              Statistical Yearbook: extensive statistics concerning demography and vital data, economics, trade, agriculture…


·        Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) [] :

č              FAO Trade Yearbook: import and export of commodity goods (value and volume).

č              FAO Production Yearbook: area, yield and production of crops, numbers and products of livestock, land use, irrigation, farm machinery…

č              Situation Mondiale de l’Alimentation et de l’Agriculture : (mal)nutrition [+ diskette].

č              Animal Health Yearbook : a combined effort of FAO, OIE and WHO; lists the current animal diseases and zoonoses by country. For recent updates see the website of the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) [].


In the Country Section next to the Reference Section data about politics, economics, … can be found in some general books concerning global and regional surveys, such as:

·        Bissio R, Ed. The World Guide 1999/2000. Montevideo: Instituto del Tercer Mundo, 1999: 627 pp.

·        Taylor RH, Ed. Asia and the Pacific. New York: Facts on File, 1991: 2 vols. [somewhat outdated]


Comparable data for individual countries can also be found in separate book(let)s classified in alphabetical order under the English name of the country, including issues from following series:


·        Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen (KIT) [] :

č              Landenreeks: series treating countries all over the world in a general way (history, politics, economics, culture, environment) and also featuring a map in each booklet  (in Dutch only !).


·        United States (US) Government, Department of Army :

č              Area handbook: more elaborate country studies of several developing countries. Additional and more recent issues can be found on the Internet as Country studies on the Library of Congress website: [].


·        Macro International [] :

č              Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS): statistics concerning fertility, family planning, infant mortality, MCH services… (see also “Studies in Family Planning” in the periodicals section). Additional information can be found or requested on their website.


·        World Bank [] :

č                Socio-Economic Differences in Health, Nutrition, and Population: the title says it all in this instance !


·        Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) :

č               Country Profiles: short term financial data related to politics of the country.



Other interesting publications among the Books and Periodicals sections:


·        Information on the prevalence of specific diseases in specific countries:

č              Wilson ME. A world guide to infections: diseases, distribution, diagnosis. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991: 769 pp. [HWE/12977]   [relatively old, but no updates have been published]

č              Von Zielonka M. Risques infectieux et voyages; guide pratique des maladies infectieuses et parasitaires dans le monde. Paris : Editions Pradel, 1992 : 762 pp. [HWE/13516]   [idem]


·        Global Burden of Disease and Injury Series:

č              Murray CJL, Lopez AD, Eds. The global burden of disease; a comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries, and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Cambridge: Harvard School of Public Health, 1996: 990 pp. [EP/15208]

č              Murray CJL, Lopez AD, Eds. Global health statistics; a compendium of incidence, prevalence and mortality estimates for over 200 conditions. Cambridge: Harvard School of Public Health, 1996: 906 pp. [EP/15207]

č              Murray CJL, Lopez AD, Eds. Health dimensions of sex and reproduction; the global burden of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, maternal conditions, perinatal disorders, and congenital anomalies. Cambridge: Harvard School of Public Health, 1998: 552 pp. [EP/15976]


·        Weekly Epidemiological Record: this weekly journal publishes data and statistics on specific diseases. If such a disease is endemic in the country in question, epidemiological statistics will probably be included. Also check the annual indexes for articles related to specific countries.


Electronic Bibliographic Databases:


·        ITG Library ERL Databases such as:

č              Book & Document Holdings: Catalog of about 18.000 books -  including also documents and selected journal theme issues -  owned by the ITG Library.

č              Health Care in Developing Countries: selection of journal articles, book chapters, documents …on health care organization in developing countries (over 3.000 records).

č              Tropical Endemic Diseases Control: selection of publications on the control of the major endemic diseases in developing countries (about 2.500 records).


·        International Databases:

č              Medline: over 10.000.000 journal article references in the field of clinical medicine.

č              CAB Health: 700.000 references to journal articles and also other documents in connection to public health, tropical medicine, microbiology, parasitology and nutrition.

č              VetCD: Veterinary medicine; 750.000 references.


Remember that these are bibliographic and not statistical databases. Most of the references retrieved will cover very specific topics. Also keep in mind that the international databases have no direct relation to the ITM library holdings. Therefore the publications proper may not be available at this library.



The Internet / World Wide Web


Too much, too little: first remember that hundreds of millions of Web pages are available on the Internet. Not all of them are of equal utility (quality, relevance, reliability). Every day many thousands of pages are added, updated, removed or have their address changed. On the other hand, not everything that exists on paper or in electronic databases is also available on the Internet. Not all resources on the Internet can be accessed by everybody (intranets) and for free (commercial services). Various guides have been created to help you find your way on the Internet. Try for instance “How to use the Internet for Development” from Eldis []



Specific resources


Most of the organizations cited above also have a webpage where one may find an online version of some of the publications owned in print by the ITM library. Moreover, many of them offer access to source data and sometimes online periodicals not owned by the ITM library.


Besides the organizations mentioned above additional interesting websites can accessed from the regularly updated links pages of the ITM library website [“”].  A short selection:


·        Bibliographic Databases:

č              Demography, Development, International Cooperation & Public Health

§         Popline: National Library of Medicine database pertaining to primary health care, population and demography, family planning…

§         ELDIS/DANIDA: Gateway to Development and Environment Information

§         Population Index: annotated bibliography on recently published books, journal articles, working papers and other materials on population topics.



·        Factual Databases and interesting websites, sometimes including statistics:

č              Demography, Development, International Cooperation & Public Health

§         CIA World Factbook: general information (geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportations, military, transnational issues) listed by country.

§         Library of Congress Country studies: information per country on historical background, geography, society, economy, transportation and communications, government and politics, national security.


č              Country Information, Travel:

§         BUBL: a Scottish national information service for the higher education community offering a selection of internet resources covering all academic subject areas, including a countries and continents index.

§ offers a brief overview of general information (population, government, newspapers, weather…) of most countries.

§         E-conflict World Encyclopaedia “Eradicate conflict by increasing cultural awareness”: information on economy, defense, geography, history, people…

§         World Travel Guide: brief information more suited to travellers and tourists.


č              Sexually transmitted diseases

§         UNAIDS: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS offering epidemic updates and data on HIV and AIDS.


č              Veterinary medicine:

§         OIE: Office International des Epizooties:

®               Disease Information : weekly updated emergency reports indicating important epidemiological events, indexed by country and by disease.




Veerle Demedts &  Dirk Schoonbaert, September 2000