Being familiar with the inspiring story of the heroic doctors and nurses from Yale who risked their lives—and in some instances gave their lives—40 years ago fighting the Lassa fever outbreak in the eponymous village near Jos, Nigeria, I was disappointed by your article titled “On the Wards in Uganda,” Winter 2008. Despite your disclaimer early on that the travel of Yale doctors, residents and medical students to a hospital in Uganda was not an “exercise in medical tourism,” the subsequent narrative left me feeling that most of the program’s benefit fell to the U.S. participants. Much as I sincerely applaud the members of the Yale team for the humanitarian work they accomplished and for the considerable medical service they rendered, it is a pity that the senior physicians did not engage in serious scholarly collaboration with their Ugandan colleagues—by which I mean research and teaching. There is no reason why the United States’ partners in international biomedical collaborations between health science centers in this country and their hosts at teaching hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa can’t keep several balls in the air at a time: teaching, research, service and humanitarian work. A first-line medical school such as Yale, which I happen to hold in high regard, should be setting the standards for international collaborations.
Robert H. Glew, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,
School of Medicine,
University of New Mexico