The final count is now in—235 journals from 34 developed and developing world countries participated in the Council of Science Editors (CSE) Global Theme Issue on Poverty and Human Development on Oct 22 2007.
The theme issue was launched at a media event at the US National Institutes of Health, and a webcast of the event has now been archived (two authors of a PLoS Medicine research article presented their work at the event).
Three PLoS journals participated in the CSE Global Theme Issue, which aimed to "stimulate interest and research in poverty and human development and disseminate the results of this research as widely as possible."
Wide dissemination is, of course, crucial if these results are to reach all policymakers, researchers, activists, and others who are working to improve the health of the world's poor. So it is encouraging that many of the participating journals have made their special issues freely available.
From a quick glance of the content in the 235 journals, it seems that the Global Theme Issue has highlighted the whole spectrum of approaches to boosting human health and development, from bench to bedside to communities and nations.
At the molecular level, for example, Nature Chemical Biology features an article on how the Sustainable Sciences Institute (SSI) is building molecular biology capacity in low income settings (SSI's founder, Eva Harris, has also co-authored a paper in PLoS Medicine's special issue).
And at the public health level, JAMA features a compelling commentary from three authors at the Institute for Health Improvement on the science of large-scale change in global health.
I imagine that the theme issue will take readers to places they have never been. I had never really thought, for example, what role dairy science could play in improving the lives of impoverished people, nor had I previously considered the crucial role of mountain research in understanding public health.
PLoS has also taken this opportunity to encourage readers to browse articles outside of their comfort zone. We've collected together papers that have a link to poverty from every single PLoS journal . I was particularly intrigued by Eric Brunner's essay in PLoS Biology examining the biological mechanisms that may explain the link between poverty and health.