About Phi


Phi came into existence thanks to the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize (see "a short history"). Originally, it was called SatelLife(UK), but in 1992 it became Phi. For the next 24 years, Phi continued as an independent charity. In October 2016, it became a programme of the Centre for Global Health in the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Winchester.


Phi operates as a development consultancy, with a cadre of Phi Associates. Phi submits proposals and participates in bids for evaluations, policy/strategy work and other project activities in its  areas of competence. Over the years, Phi has built up partnerships and professional networks of health information specialists around the world, particularly in Low and Middle Income Countries, with a strong core of contacts in sub-Saharan Africa.


In partnership activities, Phi acts in response to expressed country needs. Phi promotes country leadership in health information, supports evidence-based practice in improving public access to health information, and works directly with national organizations and networks.


In consultancy work, Phi generally interacts with client evaluation or  strategy/policy offices. Its overall process and methodological approach follows the principles set forth in the United Nations Evaluation Group Norms and Standards for Evaluation and Ethical Guidelines for Evaluation.


Phi’s activities cover the whole span of information – developing and evaluating communications and networks, promotion, education, and other aspects of knowledge management, supporting research, and work at the national planning and policy-making level.



A short history...


In 1985, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) won the Nobel Peace Prize. "Star Wars" was threatening to make space yet another battleground, and IPPNW co-founder Dr Bernard Lown decided to use some of the Nobel money to create a satellite-based global health communications system. The idea was to demonstrate that space can unite rather than further divide humankind. To further this ambition, IPPNW created SatelLife (HealthNet), an international not-for-profit organization, based in Maryland, USA.


Work began in the early 1990s, and the University of Surrey in the UK launched several small geostationary satellites. One of these was dedicated to health communications.  The idea was to use store-and-forward methods to respond to requests for health information materials in developing countries.


SatelLife began to work with the US National Library of Medicine to select key health information materials for  the purpose. To facilitate liaison with the University of Surrey and to work on linkages to UK-based institutions, SatelLife (UK) came into existence.


Very soon, the Internet swept away its original reason for existence, but by then SatelLife (UK) –  renamed Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) – had embarked on its earliest partnerships. An informal partnership with Uganda was underway in 1994, the first such partnership that Phi undertook. 


For more history of Phi’s first 20 years, please read Jean Shaw’s short paper on Celebrating Partnerships in Health Information.

Specific areas of activity include:

Training and evaluation of knowledge-based services


  • Assessing projects and programmes
  • Advising on documentation and library services (policies and practice)
  • Writing, editing, publishing and communications (digital and paper-based)
  • Ethics and regulatory: information/computer ethics, bioethics, copyright, plagiarism



Supporting digital equity


  • Networking – development and management of online networks
  • Partnership building - local and international
  • eHealth (digital applications) and mHealth (mobile phone applications)
  • Social media, including actions on dis/misinformation

Knowledge management


  • Information policy and planning - organizational and national
  • Knowledge translation: getting research results into to policy and practice
  • Assessing impact, evaluating information activities and strategies, indicators
  • National and district health observatories


Essential information saves lives