International Medical Aid


  • Meredeth Turshen
  • Annie Thebaud





The World Health Organization (WHO) recently stepped into the political limelight espousing the cause of the world's sick and poor. It successfully challenged the infant-formula industry (despite the Reagan administration's opposition) by producing a code that restricts sales practices in the Third World. It has taken on the pharmaceutical industry by publishing a list of 200 essential drugs to substitute for the average 3,500 to 5,000 marketed to underdeveloped countries. It has adopted an international nomenclature for the generic names of medicines to guide buyers through the maze of brand names and patented combinations. It has thus given Third World nations useful instruments enabling them to negotiate with multinational corporations and, for those with the political will to do so, a handle on planning their health services. In 1978, the Organization issued a challenge: "Health for All by the Year 2000." WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations: the challenge is to its member nations—developed and underdeveloped alike—to unite their efforts to bring health services to needy people everywhere. To attain this goal, WHO proposes a primary health care service model—a package of preventive and curative services that can be delivered by auxiliary personnel.