Empowering doctors in the developing worldBMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7085.980b (Published 29 March 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:980
- Roderick Macrorie, Doctor in chargea
Editor–As I am currently engaged in facilitating medical education in a developing country, I was encouraged to read in a recent editorial by Neil Pakenham-Walsh and Carol Priestley about the recent INASP-Health initiative (by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications) to promote worldwide access to the medical literature.1 There is much untapped potential in imaginative exploitation of newer information technologies.
From our end, however, there is a clear perception of the close link between access to medical literature and power. Those who generate and possess the knowledge base have greatest influence, over both the medical and the political worlds we inhabit. Knowledge controls.
Thus I hope that the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications and others seeking to empower the medical workforce in developing countries will not limit themselves to availability, simply giving access to Western literature as its authors see fit. Rather, we need to distribute the control of access to databases to the users, enabling them to initiate searches and determine end points, seeking answers to their own questions. We might also do more to enable medical practitioners from developing countries to contribute more to the published literature from their own discoveries, reactions, and experiences, giving them the confidence to share their perspectives. Only then can an “international network” have real meaning.