From the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Drs Forrow and Sidel), and the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, (Dr Forrow), Boston, Mass; and the Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY (Dr Sidel).
To determine how physicians might participate in the prevention of nuclear
war in the post–Cold War era, we review, from a medical perspective,
the history of the nuclear weapons era since Hiroshima and the status of today's
nuclear arsenals and dangers. In the 1950s, physicians were active partners
in governmental civil defense planning. Since 1962, physicians have stressed
prevention of nuclear war as the only effective medical intervention. Public
advocacy by physicians helped end both atmospheric nuclear testing in the
1960s and superpower plans for fighting a nuclear war in the 1980s. Today's
dangers include nuclear arms proliferation, an increasing risk of nuclear
terrorism, and the 35,000 warheads that remain in superpower nuclear arsenals,
many still on hair-trigger alert. Physicians have recently joined with military
and political leaders and over 1000 citizens' organizations in calling for
the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. Global medical collaboration
in support of a verifiable and enforceable Nuclear Weapons Convention would
be a major contribution to safeguarding health in the 21st century.
Forrow L, Sidel VW. Medicine and Nuclear War: From Hiroshima to Mutual Assured Destruction to Abolition 2000. JAMA. 1998;280(5):456–461. doi:10.1001/jama.280.5.456
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