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January 23, 1978

Health and Disease in Tribal Societies

JAMA. 1978;239(4):355-356. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280310087032

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


That many health problems arise when primitive isolated groups first have contact with modern civilization is well recognized. In recent years anthropologists, public health workers, government officials, and explorers have tried unsuccessfully to protect tribal groups from the injurious effects of such contact. They have also tried to learn as much as possible from the study of these people and have made some effort to determine the best way of assimilating them into our society.

In 1976 the Ciba Foundation sponsored a symposium in which 26 experts from all over the world—physicians, epidemiologists, geneticists, anthropologists, and others—met and discussed these problems. This volume includes the 14 papers presented, together with the well-reported and lively discussions that followed each presentation.

In his introduction the chairman, P. Hugh-Jones of London, points out that apart from the ethics of helping primitive man, we have much to gain for ourselves by studying him. Perhaps