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December 14, 1984

Physicians for the Developing World

Author Affiliations

University of Calabar Calabar, Nigeria

JAMA. 1984;252(22):3128. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350220036015

To the Editor.—  While the potential for good is overwhelming in the discussion by Dr Pust1 that "American physicians can help forge a commitment to Third World Health," his thesis raises issues that depend on understanding the precise educational and health needs of specific groups.I have taught in both American medical schools and at schools in the developing nations, and a fundamental question I believe is whether American physicians, as currently trained, are appropriate professionals to serve the underprivileged populations in the developing world.An understanding of the basic health needs of these populations is essential. Sending surplus physicians to developing countries is likely to achieve little unless such physicians have training in community (rural) health as well as knowledge of the common diseases seen in these people—malnutrition, malaria, tuberculosis, tetanus, trachoma, dysentery, meningitis, cholera, and parasitic diseases, for example.The basic health mission should be to foster