A New Year's resolution after a lost decade

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7429.1415 (Published 18 December 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1415
  1. D J Weatherall, regius professor of medicine emeritus (david.weatherall@imm.ox.ac.uk)
  1. Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DS

    For the universities of the rich world to forge real partnerships with the developing world

    All in all, 2003 has not been the best of years. The war in Iraq has been followed by the further destabilisation of the Middle East; the spin doctoring activities of government on both sides of the Atlantic have left their populations increasingly distrustful of politicians; and, closer to home, we have been regaled almost daily by stories of a dysfunctional healthcare system and the incompetence of doctors. Yet buried beneath all this gloom, and only rarely mentioned by the media, is the disturbing fact that over the past 10 years the already huge gap in the economic standing and state of health between the poor and rich countries of the world has widened even further. For many in the developing world it has been a decade of lost opportunity.

    Although during the 1990s gross domestic product per head in the developing countries grew by 1.6% a year, and the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day fell from 29% to 23%, most of this progress was made in Asia.1 In other regions the number of poor people increased, even though the overall proportion in extreme poverty has fallen.1 Furthermore, 150 million children in low and middle income economies are still suffering from malnourishment, and, unless the situation improves, a similar number will be …

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