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August 10, 1984

Medical Help for Developing Nations

JAMA. 1984;252(6):766. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350060018010

To the Editor.—  The Journal is to be commended for the focus on international health given in the Jan 27 issue. Dr Lundberg1 was right to point out in his editorial that "there is a great mass of medically underserved human beings in need of care." He concludes his comments with the thought that "it is time for the United States to export physicians" to developing nations.1There is no question that intelligent and committed Western physicians have much to offer in developing nations. However, despite the best of intentions, more harm than good can result if one lacks the proper perspective. Medical training in the United States is directed toward technology-intensive diagnosis and treatment of individual patients with acute or chronic disease, while the most pressing health problems in developing nations are usually best approached through preventive public health measures and simple treatments.For example, according to