Graphic: Cathleen Heard

This week, as the United Nations convenes its Millennium Summit in New York, delegates will consider how to help developing countries obtain better access to medical information on the Internet. The discussion is prompted by Secretary General Kofi Annan, who in his April Millennium Report proposed a Health InterNetwork and a volunteer U.N. Information Technology Service. The first proposal would establish thousands of online sites in hospitals and clinics to provide access to up-to-date medical information, and the second would train groups in how to exploit the Internet and information technology.

Recognizing the power of the Web for accessing medical and scientific information, these proposals intend to reach out to the disenfranchised. But developing countries are not the only disenfranchised who stand to benefit from Internet access to medical and scientific research. In the United States and Europe, outside of top-tier research institutions, some institutions cannot...

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