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How political should a general medical journal be?

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 12 April 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:820

We cannot be apolitical

  1. Guillermo A Herrera Taracena, medical epidemiologist
  1. Ozvantan Sokak 17/2, Teras Eveler, Yukari Ayranci, Ankara, Turkey
  2. Stow Primary Care, 4465 Darrow Road, Stow, OH 44224, USA
  3. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT
  4. National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra 0200, Australia
  5. Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 2PR
  6. Dianthus Medical Limited, London SW19 3TZ
  7. Grasmere Street Health Centre, Leigh, Lancashire WN7 1XB

    EDITOR—Delamothe asks to what extent a general medical journal should be political.1 Every medical article published is the culmination of a long journey that started from a political decision: devoting resources to medical care and research. There is nothing to fear about being political, so long as we are prepared to accept the consequences and deal with the criticism of many who strongly believe that a person or a journal should be apolitical. The BMJ's political stand is the clinical, scientific, social, political, and economic factors affecting health.2

    What a reader expects from a journal such as the BMJ is that it maintains a balance in terms of the views expressed and scientific articles published. If there is controversy it has to be stated, and if there are conflicting views on the same topic they have to be given equal time and coverage. That is to be politically responsible, and, so far, the BMJ has been so.

    What the journal cannot afford is to become politicised by allowing only one point of view to be expressed. Also, it cannot afford to politicise the argument and continuously publish long articles dealing with 11 September and its aftermath. The reason: 11 September is a consequence of a series of events transforming our world. To understand it, we have to analyse the unequal relation and misunderstanding between the West and Islam and vice versa; this implies dealing with historical, political, and cultural facts.

    Is the BMJ or any other medical journal the right place to deal with 11 September and bridge this misunderstanding? I would certainly not pick the BMJ as my first source of information on the issue.

    How much space should …

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