Intended for healthcare professionals


Helping health services in the developing world

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 19 August 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:513
  1. Charlie Collins,
  2. Rod Macrorie
  1. Clinical specialist General physician Hospital Assistance Project, International Nepal Project, PO Box 5, Pokhara, Nepal

    EDITOR,--Michael Harper outlines an excellent example of a mutually beneficial relationship between general practice in Britain and a community health scheme in rural India.1 We too are engaged in giving help to the health services in part of the developing world. Current development theory equates sustainable development with economic self sufficiency. Our experience, like Harper's, is that it is more a question of “holistic interchange.” With the meagre resources available to the health service in a country such as Nepal, insisting on economic self sufficiency is equivalent to doing nothing (or, at least, very little) while Rome burns. There is no realistic prospect of adequate government funding of the health service in this part of the world within the next several decades.

    Western health centres should not allow concern about continuing financial burdens to prevent them from exploring the rich experiences, both personal and professional, available through contact with a southern health programme. Nor should general practitioners balk at helping overseas district hospitals, which are often of equivalent scope to group practices, with similar problems and novel solutions—we are all engaged in primary health care.2 3

    Would that there was some kind of exchange for interested parties to make contact, as Whiteladies Healthshare Project has done. Social workers with their initiative are, alas, too rare. We would certainly welcome any interest in our work in the district general hospitals of this remote area of Nepal.