Monday, February 27, 2006

SCHOOLS FOR AFRICA: A Noble Endeavor - Simply Put

Last week I wrote about The Nelson Mandela Foundation , and today I would like to talk about a project in which that Foundation is participating along with UNICEF and the Hamburg Society for the Promotion of Democracy and International Law. This project is called Schools For Africa.

Schools For Africa is a joint campaign launched by the three organizations I just mentioned in order to promote education for children in Africa. In its own words, Schools For Africa: "The campaign aims to accelerate access to quality basic education for children, with a special focus on girls, orphans and vulnerable children. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, approximately 45 million children do not go to school. This means that almost every second child grows up behind an invisible wall of ignorance, poverty and discrimination. "Schools for Africa" will contribute to the right of every African child to education."

In a "nutshell" Schools For Africa:

- Supports school construction

- Provides educational materials and

- Trains teachers

Currently they aim to do this in six African countries, those being: Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Also, it is the goal to develop training programmes for teachers and strengthen school governance and management. The schools established will mainly be in rural areas.

The web site for Schools For Africa gives as an example Angola where communities themselves are building classrooms from burnt clay bricks. UNICEF provides the cement and timber and coordinates the work. Clean running water and latrines will be available to all the schools and blackboards, books, pens and benches will be provided in support of the educational process. Teachers will be provided with training courses and training centres for teachers will be organized to sharpen the skills of educators in the areas of new teaching and school management methodology. Another service provided to the communities where the schools will be built are Children's and Youth Clubs. These Clubs will be established at the schools to provide information on prevention and protection from HIV and AIDS infection.

This partnership of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations will create a network of local and regional administrations, school committees, corporations and ministries. The anticipated outcome will be the proper functioning of the schools, which will be the responsibility of the villages and communities themselves.

The Background for this effort is explained at the web site where Schools For Africa states:

"While more children are enrolled in school all over the world today, the chances of attending classes decrease in Sub-Saharan African countries. According to the latest estimates by UNICEF, at least 40 per cent of boys and 44 per cent of girls in this region do not go to elementary school. In rural areas in particular, there are not enough functional schools and trained teachers. And even if the children are enrolled, many drop out of school early. Their families are so poor that children often have to work to help support the family. Many girls also do not go to school because many schools do not have separated sanitation facilities.

"HIV and AIDS further reduces opportunities for many children to go to school. Some eleven million children have already been orphaned by the deadly disease. If parents fall ill because of HIV and AIDS infection, if they are not able to work and need medical help, they can no longer afford to send their children to school. Girls in particular have the greater burden, first with caring for the ill parents and then, after their death, taking care of their brothers and sisters. Often, they have to drop out of school. Without education, children orphaned by AIDS are not able to provide for their own living, easily fall prey to exploitation and may end up on the streets."

Simply put, it is a huge problem, and I hope you will consider seeing what you can do to help. Visit Schools For Africa at their web site.

Friday, February 24, 2006


I know that I do not need to introduce Nelson Mandala to the readers of this Blog, but you may not be familiar with his foundation. The Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation was founded in 1999 by its name sake to foster the ideals of freedom and to encourage opportunity and service. Towards this end, the organization promotes dialogue by bringing people, partners and organisations together to debate, analyse, review options and consider the possibilities for action.

The Major Programmes of the Foundation are:

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and Commeration

Lecture and Seminar Series

HIV/ Aids

Education and Rural Development

So, while The Nelson Mandela Foundation paints on a broad canvas, I am only going to write about their efforts in the field of education.

Their web site states about their "The Education Programme":

"Rural Education is a major focus of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The Foundation takes full cognisance of the impact that poverty has on life in rural areas, and on children's schooling in particular. "

In order to make a difference in an educational context of deep poverty in which a generation of young people is growing up with few possibilities the Nelson Mandela Foundation has established a National Rural Schools Programme with three components:

- An investigative study

- A pilot project based in the Eastern Cape, one of South Africa's poorest provinces. The key aim of this project is to enable rural schools to become centres of educational excellence and examples of good practice in poor communities.

- Rolling out the programme in stages over a three-year period, extending it from the Eastern Cape to a further 300 schools around the country.

The Foundation focuses on curriculum development projects that promote values such as "reconciliation, peace, justice and community service in education". These values are also the basis for the programme's activities in the school communities where the focus is on improving literacy in the community, promoting gender equity, and encouraging democratic community leadership approaches. The programme will measure its impact against the following indicators:

- School and community initiatives to reduce hunger and, in some cases, starvation among learners and even teachers in particularly disadvantaged schools.

- School and community providing mutual support in facing the impact of AIDS on families and staff of the school.

- School and community deciding on schools' infrastructural requirements (eg. raw materials, classrooms, staff room, principal's office, toilets, and special rooms) and deciding how members of the community can provide them using local resources.

- School and community deciding on what additional resources and equipment are required, and finding ways to obtain these through fundraising with the Foundation's assistance or through their own efforts.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation says that despite notable changes to provide an education system that builds democracy and social justice, inequality still prevails, which is more pronounced in rural communities. The Foundation seeks to support rural schools and bases its efforts on the conviction that rural education and its impact on development are deeply connected with rural poverty.

Rural communities were systematically and deliberately deprived of resources under apartheid. And they continue to lag behind the rest of the country. Because of this, the Foundation believes that ways must be found to improve the quality of rural education, and those who are formally tasked with social development and poverty alleviation should to pay more attention to the untapped potential of rural communities to lead the transformation of their lives.

Emerging Voices, a study of education in South African rural communities, published in October 2004 sets out a number of elements of the Foundation's education programmes and interventions.

More than 140 public schools have been built in South Africa by the Foundation during the last decade. And these were mainly opened in rural communities where the need and the impact would be the greatest. There is a complex relationship between poverty and education that needs to be understood along with formulating a clear strategy for policy and implementation. More about this can be read at The Nelson Mandela Foundation web site.

The National Rural Schools Programme was started in the Eastern Cape with a pilot project that involved 15 schools. Based on an in-depth survey conducted in 2002, and which profiled the needs of approximately 50 schools in the Eastern Cape, the Foundation focused it's work there. This, however, is only the first stage of implementing the wider National Rural Schools Programme, which will cover approximately 300 schools around South Africa.

This pilot project provides short-term relief to 15 schools and focuses on making available learning materials, library books and access to computers. The programme will also create small business enterprises and agricultural and horticultural experimentation projects in addition to connecting with the Foundation's HIV/AIDS initiative to facilitate programmes for communities and support networks for families living with AIDS.

The Foundation's National Rural Schools Programme seeks to encourage the linking of schools and the communities in which they are located. In this way, they can reduce the impact of poverty on children's learning. Most of the schools participating in the project are situated in the old 'Transkei' where the lack of the most basic physical resources in schools undermines the drive for quality in education.

The Foundation is leveraging off the lead that Nelson Mandela has given and the number of 'Mandela schools' around South Africa is increasing. And wide-ranging partnerships are continuing to be built with the private sector, international development agencies, universities and government. The Foundation says that: "This first stage of the intervention has been facilitated by a partnership between the Foundation and the Eastern Cape Department of Education, Fort Hare University, the Shoma Foundation and a number of private sector donors."

The Foundation has established, and continues to fund, a Unit for Rural Schooling and Development as a direct response to the challenges of rural schooling. This project is based at the University of Fort Hare and is a partnership initiative with the university and the Eastern Cape Department of Education. This Unit provides a way to support schools so that they can develop as centres of educational excellence. The Unit, which was established formally in November 2003, also allows this to take place in a practical manner. It also demonstrates how they can be the focus for social development in rural communities.

The Foundation says that there are three (but I count 4) principal areas in which the Unit concentrates its work:

- the organisation of innovation and learning;

- methodologies for innovation and social change;

- concentrating on change that is driven by local agents rather than external players; and

- developing new approaches to learning and teaching.

And the Foundation's Unit boasts of the following a achievements to date:

- The launching of a Youth Change Agents programme (More about this can be read at the web site).

- Following a survey of information communication technologies (ICTs) and computer facilities in schools in the Eastern Cape conducted by the Unit, computer laboratories were funded in 15 schools. (More about this can be read at the web site).

- A research programme was started with the support of Multichoice Africa Foundation. This program has supported doctoral fellows as well as fellows on the Masters level.
(More about this can be read at the web site).

I have to end now, but I do not want to wrap up without mentioning The Mandela Rhodes Foundation

Established to support human resource development in education and a number of related fields particularly in South Africa and in Africa more generally The Rhodes Trust and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation hosted a centenary reunion in Cape Town from 25 January to 2 February 2003. "The celebrations took the form of an international reunion for Rhodes Scholars, the first ever held outside the United Kingdom. A series of discussions were held on key aspects of the nation-building project in which South Africa has been engaged since 1994: constitutional democracy, education, health, civil society, business, the environment, and arts and culture."

The Rhodes Trust states that its trustees desired to mark the Centenary of their foundation by "a significant gesture of investment in South Africa which had been the original source of their own endowment. They desired furthermore to mark the transformation of South Africa by honouring the principal architect of that transformation, Nelson Mandela. In this way, the Rhodes Trust signals its own sense of the evolution of its mission over time but in line with the principles of its founder."

The web site of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation states that its objective is to contribute within South Africa "to the achievement of true equality, of dignity and educational opportunity for all, to the enhancement of the cultural heritage, to the strengthening of democracy, and the rule of law, and to the alleviation of poverty and suffering, especially amongst the children of the country".

Time is up and I have to go. Please visit The Nelson Mandela Foundation to learn more about all of the things it is doing that I did not have time to write about in this article.


Postscript - You may have noticed that there has been a long pause since my last articles, and for this I apologize. But an illness in my family has required a significant amount of my time and attention and unfortunately, the Blog has had to suffer. I will try to pick up the pace on the posting of the articles, but as we never know what the future holds, I can only hope to do better, but I am unable to guarantee it.

With warm regards, I remain

Yours truly,

Oscar H. Blayton

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

INTERSOS: Committed To Assist The Victims Of Natural Disasters And Armed Conflicts

BMatters beyond my control make it impossible for me to write longer articles at this time; so I am going to simply post relevant information found on today's NGO - INTERSOS

"INTERSOS is an independent no-profit humanitarian organization committed to assist the victims of natural disasters and armed conflicts.
It was founded in 1992 with the active support of Italian Trade Unions.

"INTERSOS activities are based on the principles of solidarity, justice, human dignity, equality of rights and opportunities, and respect for diversity and coexistence, paying special attention to the most vulnerable and unprotected people.

"INTERSOS identifies with the core values of the Italian Association of Non-Governmental Organizations and adheres to the international humanitarian codes of conduct and to the values and principles expressed in these codes. INTERSOS is recognized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission and the main UN Agencies. It enjoys the consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.

"INTERSOS is an independent organization that was created to provide an effective response to crisis situations in the poorest regions of the world, where the population is deprived of their rights and dignity and their basis needs are uncovered.

"INTERSOS has a flexible operational structure, with the central headquarters in Rome, in charge of planning and coordination of operations, and of field offices in the countries of operation. The bodies that, according to the Statute of the organization, orientate, decide and control the activities and its finances are: the Assembly of Members, the Council, the Auditing company.

Their Goals are stated in the following manner:

"To give immediate response to humanitarian crises, by bringing relief to victims of armed conflicts and their long-term consequences (poverty, disability, mines and explosive devices, etc.), and of any other natural or man-made calamity.
To begin, along with the relief intervention, laying the groundwork for return to stability, reconstruction and development.
To activate, stimulate and involve Italian society, in order to develop and spread the culture of international solidarity.

While they operate in the African nations of Angola, Burundi, Chad, D.R. Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan INTERSOS also operates in Central America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Based in Italy, INTERSOS is an active member of the following organizations:
Association of the Italian NGOs - The platform of Italian development and humanitarian aid NGOs.

Forum Solint - NGO Forum aimed at promoting joint growth and reflection on major issues related to international dynamics, strategic choices and operational practices in development cooperation and humanitarian aid.

Forum del Terzo Settore - Umbrella gathering Italian no-profit organizations engaged in social actions.

CONCORD - European Confederation of Development and Emergency NGOs (through the Representation of the Italian NGOs).

This is a brief overview, but for a better look at INTERSOS take a visit to their web site.

Monday, February 13, 2006

SERRV: Fair Trade For Over Fifty Years

S ERRV International is a non-profit organization that promotes the social and economic progress of people in developing regions of the world by purchasing and marketing their crafts in a just and direct manner. It was one of the first alternative trade organizations in the world and was a founding member of the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT). Originally created in 1949 by the Church of the Brethren to assist World War II refugees, SERRV received a distribution network in the early 1960's from Church World Service.

SERRV has been creating a strategic marketplace based on fairness for almost fifty years, but it is no longer a program of the Church of the Brethren. ( However, SERRV still donates 10% of its annual LWR Handcraft Project sales to Lutheran World Relief to support their partners and projects overseas.) SERRV also has a partnership with Catholic Relief Services to sell fair trade handcrafts and foods at Catholic parishes, and SERRV works independently with churches around the country that belong to many different denominations.

Today, more than 3,000 one-of-a-kind items made by artisans from over thirty countries are on display in their International Gift Shop located in New Windsor, Maryland. In the alternative trade community, SERRV is known for its outstanding customer service and quality control for its products. The purchaser of a handcraft from SERRV International becomes part of a global partnership fostering justice and hope. These purchases bring "dignity and needed income to a developing world artisan." And the purchaser receives a one of a kind quality product at an affordable price.

Today the organization presents itself as "A Greater Gift" rather than SERRV. At the creation of the organization, "SERRV" stood for "Sales Exchange Refugee Rehabilitation and Vocation". Back then, and still today, SERRV International markets crafts through churches, socially responsible retailers, and community groups throughout the United States. They also distribute products through direct mail. With a current revenue generation of $6 million annually, SERRV International is marketing globally in cooperation with artisans from over 30 developing countries.

Today as A Greater Gift, SERRV International seeks to promote the social and economic progress of people in developing regions of the world by marketing their products in a just and direct manner.

In July of 2004 SERRV launched an eCommerce site. Since September 2005 a that site has been hosted by Timberline Interactive and SERRV is very pleased with the growth that took place during the 2005 holiday season. In 2005 sales were approximately $8.5 million.

The ultimate goal of SERRV is "to alleviate poverty and empower low-income people through trade, training and other forms of community support as they work to improve their lives."

SERRV seeks to carry out its aims and accomplish its goals of benefiting the lives of those it intends to help by:

"Marketing their handcrafts and food products in a just and direct manner.
Educating consumers in the United States about economic justice and other cultures.
Providing development assistance to low-income craftspeople through their community-based organizations."

They also offer their artisan and farmer partners up to 50% advance payment on orders, which helps them to purchase raw materials and have a more regular income so they can avoid high interest rates from borrowing locally. "

Although it uses a new name, its mission remains the same. And that is "to promote the social and economic progress of people in developing regions of the world by marketing their products in a just and direct manner." The organization also follows a set of internationally recognized fair trade principles and practices, including commitment to fair pay, equal opportunity for women, and no child exploitation.

Visit A Greater Gift to see how you can serve along with SERRV .

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


It never ceases to amaze me how many organizations there are out there trying to help various communities in Africa. Quite often I am embarrassed that I did not know of the existence of certain organizations.

Yesterday I received in the mail an invitation to a reception in Washington, D.C. for the Medical Education for South African Blacks (MESAB) and I must confess that I had to go to their web site to learn about them.

MESAB says that it is a "collaborative American and South African effort to improve the health of South Africa's black majority by training black health professionals in South Africa." Currently they are the largest source of funding from private sources for students of color preparing for careers as health professionals in South Africa.

MESAB began in 1985, and at that time there were only 500 black doctors in the entire nation of South Africa. And in the massive community of Soweto there were only 2 doctors. Clearly not enough to serve that community's 2 million black residents.

Since 1985, progress has been made in South Africa and the country's 32 million blacks have benefited to some degree, THERE ARE STILL ONLY 2500 BLACK DOCTORS IN SOUTH AFRICA!

While the huge obstacles of apartheid have been removed, black South Africans continue to suffer from unacceptable rates of infant mortality, infectious disease, HIV/AIDS, TB, accidental death, and other physical impairment simply because many do not yet have access even to basic health care. One approach to improve this situation is to dramatically increase the number of black health care professionals in South Africa.

So, 20 years, MESAB has worked to provide disadvantaged black students with scholarship support in fulfilling their goals of becoming health professionals. And it is needless to say that this support is greatly needed. Over the years MESAB has sponsored 6,841 students and given a total of 10,689 grants.

While MESAB provides scholarships to students who are pursuing health professions degrees across a range of disciplines the need for black health care professionals continues to grow. Currently it is estimated that the number of black doctors in the country at 3,000. Working to fill a critical gap in medical services MESAB is providing scholarships to accomplished students. Additionally, through their prenatal health initiative, they have maintained their training program for nurse midwives delivering health services to expectant mothers and their children in rural areas of the country.

In recent years, due to the devastating effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa, MESAB has sought ways to support current efforts to address that scourge while at the same time adhering to their core mission. The implications of this crisis, with more than four million of the nation's citizens living with HIV or AIDS, are enormous. The already overburdened health care systems are straining under the crisis and a generation of orphaned children is being created. The caregivers for those with AIDS few places to receive training and support.

Because of the enormous number of those infected with HIV hundreds of thousands of AIDS patients are not getting the basic care needed to enable them to live their lives with dignity and lessen the unnecessary suffering.

MESAB's goal is to change that through its newly launched Palliative Care Training. They seek to improve the quality of life for those with HIV/AIDS by strengthening and expanding community-based services that train caregivers with enhanced knowledge and skills to better meet their patient's needs.

Because of the HIV/AIDS crisis, the health care needs of South Africans has never been greater.

In 1989 MESAB launched its Mentor Program to help ease the transition for students as they go into the dramatically new and demanding environment of academia. Some of the students who receive scholarships from MESAB have never been to a proper library, before arriving at their colleges. They have never had a bank account or conducted a science experiment in a real laboratory. Also, in South Africa, it is not unusual for a student of color to have never sat in a class beside white students before.

These are some of realities for many of MESAB scholarship recipients as they enter into their university studies. Growing up in poor and/or rural communities where educational resources remain rudimentary, as some of the recipients did, the chance to enter a whole new world of ideas and relationships with professors and peers that MESAB offers presents many challenges.

The Mentor Program was originally offered on six campuses and is now available at all 22 of those universities and technikons attended by MESAB scholarship recipients. The program is supervised by a MESAB-appointed and funded coordinator and open to all black students in health care studies, not just MESAB scholarship recipients.

When a MESAB-funded student arrives on campus he or she is meets with the mentor program coordinator and is paired with a mentor who is generally a medical student at the senior level of his or her studies. Each mentor may assist as many as twenty mentees. And in this way, the program reaches between 1,500 and 2,000 students at any given time.

While the cornerstone of MESAB's mission is its Scholarship program supporting young, black South Africans aspiring to enter the medical profession, mentoring addresses challenges created by and an iniquitous system of apartheid which besides being traumatic for learners, created an inequality of starting points for learners of various cultural backgrounds. And those challenges still remain because of the residual effects of the apartheid system.

MESAB states that its average scholar comes from a poor family with a per capita income equivalent to only US $3,000 - $8,000 per year. Also, it is most likely that his or her parents never graduated from high school. Those students who come to MSAB seeking financial assistance have overcome tremendous obstacles in their quest to become doctors.

MESAB scholarships are need-based and hold no special stipulations. And any student who qualifies to enter a South African institution is eligible. The exact amount awarded to each student varies depending on individual need, but the minimum grant covers basic tuition.

Also, in order to stem the "brain drain" afflicting many African nations, MESAB encourages young medical professionals to stay in South Africa once graduated and beyond the government-required service in the country.

Another important initiative of MESAB is Perinatal Education. In rural areas of South nurses and midwives often serve as primary caregivers because there is limited access to hospitals and clinics. Because of the lack of trained health care professionals, expectant mothers and infants living in rural areas often receive inadequate attention.

In 1995 MESAB helped to launch the Perinatal Education Program (PEP) to address this urgent health care need of rural South Africans. Based on a set of manuals developed by Professor Dave Woods and the Department of Pediatrics at Groote Schuur Hospital in cape Town an advanced training course for nurse-midwives, PEP provides practitioners and primary care givers with training in the care of mothers and their newborns.

With MESAB's assistance, over 1400 practitioners have completed the PEP training since 1995. Over 30 hospitals and clinics having partnered with MESAB to offer the PEP training.

With the support of a grant from Levi-Strauss in 1997, MESAB funded the development of an "additional manual used in the treatment of expectant mothers and infants with HIV/AIDS. The manual offers practical methods for preventing HIV and AIDS transmission from mother to infant. Professor Woods is currently developing another manual designed to address overall perinatal health by focusing on the 'well mother.'"

If you have not yet heard about MESAB take a look at their web site, because they deserve recognition. Medical Education for South African Blacks

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE: A Virtual Library On Healthcare

When I was a young child, I used to wonder why my father, who was a country doctor practicing in rural Virginia subscribed to and read the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). I knew we were not leaving Virginia for New England, and I did not see how he could learn anything by reading about medicine in a place so far away.

Today, I am a "Registered Guest" to the online version of the NEJM even though I, like my father, live in Virginia. But unlike my father, I practice law, not medicine. But now I know what a useful tool the NEJM is for someone who is interested in quality of life issues.

NGOs concerned about such issues as HIV/AIDS, cancer, smallpox and other dangers that weigh heavily upon developing countries can find extremely useful information in the NEJM. Not only are the articles themselves useful, but the references found in a scholarly journal such as this are true treasures. And I will come back to these references later.

While one must subscribe to the magazine to receive the full benefits, I want to take a few moments to review just some of the articles that are available in their full text FREE at the NEJM online.

The articles range from issues dealing with volunteering overseas for healthcare professionals to public health and HIV/AIDS to the brain drain from developing countries of both doctors and nurses and much, much more.

These articles can be of great use to any NGO that is dealing with Health Care issues. And as I said, I am going to review some of them. But first, I would like to point out that these articles are copyrighted and should not be abused. If there is any question about what can or cannot be done with these articles, there is a link to the copyright policy at the bottom of each article.

The first article I want to discuss is: Volunteering Overseas - Lessons from Surgical Brigades by Adam J. Wolfberg, M.D., M.P.H. This article focuses on physicians who volunteer their talents in developing countries, (usually in rural areas). It points out the rewards as well as the difficulties of this type of volunteerism. It talks about some of the unique examples of this volunteer work as well. For example, it mentions an international eye-health group called Orbis, that used a DC-8 airplane outfitted with an operating room when it launched its volunteer operations in 1982. Another interesting fact found in the article is that the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), "travels to Africa annually to participate in medical volunteer work." Dr. Wolfberg also points out that while "many groups collaborate with one another and with host governments, there is no formal system for coordinating or evaluating the work of so many volunteers." This observation should give rise to some motivation to initiate such a coordinating effort.

Applying Public Health Principles to the HIV Epidemic by several physicians is a well written well thought out work that cites 30 references sources. Many of the references are works for which links to Abstracts and/or Full Texts versions are provided. This article also has a table that can be converted to a Power Point slide by clicking the link provided. After introducing the subject, this article goes into:
- Case Finding and Surveillance
- Interrupting Transmission
- Systematic Treatment and Case Management
- Population-Based Monitoring and Evaluation, and its
- Conclusion

In Aiding and Abetting - Nursing Crises at Home and Abroad , one of the very arresting facts presented is that while the National Health Service of the United Kingdom relied heavily on the direct recruitment of nurses from African countries for years. Those countries affected, which are former U.K. colonies such as Botswana, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are those very countries that have been among those hardest hit by the HIV pandemic. This article by Sreekanth Chaguturu, M.D., and Snigdha Vallabhaneni, B.A. presents statistics, analysis and data in a very concise manner. I would like to point out also that many of these articles have triggered responses in the form of letters from the journal's readers. And these letters, with their often insightful commentary and/or factual presentations, may be viewed as well.

Cost-Effectiveness of Cervical-Cancer Screening in Five Developing Countries - The five countries referenced in this article are: India, Kenya, Peru, South Africa, and Thailand, and the authors are so numerous that I will leave it to you to go to the article to see all of their names. This article is so impressive in its detail. Again, there are charts and graphs that can be converted into Power Point presentations and a gold mine of references. Not only does this article give a scholarly treatment of its subject, but it also illustrates how such a study should be conducted and the results presented.

Antiretroviral Therapy in a Thousand Patients with AIDS in Haiti is an excellent article that has an abstract as a forward. In fact many of the articles have abstracts that can be accessed for FREE even if the full text of the article itself may only be viewed by subscribers. But in this case, this article has the full text provided for free. Also, I have not yet mentioned that each article may be viewed in a PDF format. The articles may be emailed to a friend, you can ask the NEJM to email you if a letter is posted in relation to a particular article, and there are many other features as well. Again, this article was authored by so many physicians and other health care professionals that the authors cite would like like the faculty roster of a medical school.

Not all of the articles are clinical studies are analyses of medical cases. Glimpses of Guantanamo - Medical Ethics and the War on Terror is a case in point. This is a discussion of a medical ethics issue. This is not a political thesis, but thoughtful analysis of the issues by Susan Okie, M.D., as well as a first-hand account of her visit to the prison. The article treats on the issues of forced feeding, and questions concerning allegations of abusive and inhumane interrogation techniques, among other things. In addition to her own observations, Dr. Okie cites Army Regulations, the Army's Intelligence Interrogation Field Manual, a Memorandum from the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld and Newspaper accounts. This article may be of particular interest to those NGO workers concerned with Human Rights issues.

Health Care Reform and the Crisis of HIV and AIDS in South Africa is practically a book with eighty source cites from other medical journals, books, newspapers and web sites. The email address for the author, Solomon R. Benatar, M.B., Ch.B. can be found at the end of the article - as is usually the case for all of the articles. Also, each article has a listing of where the article has been cited as reference material for other articles, thus providing the reader a trail to follow in order to investigate where there has is any additional or updated information available.

The Metrics of the Physician Brain Drain has been cited by five other articles, which are listed with links at the end of the article. There are also letters relating to this article and it cites several other articles that treat with this very serious problem for developing countries. This article also prompted an editorial that can be accessed by the link provided. And there is a link to an audio file of an interview with the author, Fitzhugh Mullan, M.D. Finally, I should indicate that there are usually translations of the abstracts of these articles available in various languages. For example, there are links to German, Italian, French and Spanish translations for the abstract of this article. This article also has tables and a chart that can be converted to a Power Point slide.

Current Concepts: Diagnosis and Management of Smallpox by Joel G. Breman, M.D., D.T.P.H., and D.A. Henderson, M.D., M.P.H. must be quite well respected because it has been cited by no less than 26 other works. This article has several graphic files that can be accessed. These files contain tables and graphics of "Clinical Manifestations and Pathogenesis of Smallpox and the Immune Response" and "Electron Micrographs of Variola Virus and Varicella-Zoster Virus." With over 40 reference cites and links to "Related Articles" this article (as well as many of the others found in the NEJM) is as valuable as a library on the subject.

Well, I am way over my limit, but you will have to agree that there was little chance that I could make this article shorter and give you a clear idea of what you can find if you subscribe to the New England Journal of Medicine . If health care is a concern of your NGO, I think it is worth it to ask one of your donors to provide you with the funds to subscribe.