NB. Please note that if you are outside North America, the embargo for LANCET press material is 0001 hours UK Time 28 March 2003.
This week's editorial contrasts the urgency with which the US administration has pressed for military action in Iraq with its recent blocking of a WTO mandate-ironically in Doha, Qatar, now the US Central Command Centre-to give poorer nations access to essential medicines.
France-which has taken over the presidency of the Group of Eight nations-has put tackling disease, promoting sustainable development, and rolling back poverty top of its agenda for the forthcoming meeting in June. The editorial comments: 'Against the grain of much present criticism of France, [President] Chirac has led global efforts to secure justice for those peoples whose survival is under greatest threat. The French President argues that an ever-growing division between healthy and ill people will make the world a more dangerous place. Chirac is right. Disease and poverty are as much security issues as they are matters of health. Whatever divisions exist today, and they are deep, all western nations must find a way to work together in the future to bridge their differences. Winning peace through protecting the health of vulnerable peoples is a strategy that works, as experience in the Bosnian civil war showed.'
The editorial concludes: 'In searching for a resolution to the present war, which is likely to dominate our attention for many more weeks to come, physicians and public-health workers must not diminish their efforts to bring and advocate health-and peace-to disadvantaged peoples elsewhere in the world.'