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In: Issues in contemporary international health, edited by Thomas A. Lambo and Stacey B. Day. New York, New York, Plenum Medical Book Company, 1990. 113-33.The causes of mortality and disability in the world are reviewed, and the 4 most important mechanisms for promoting maternal and child health are proposed: female literacy, family planning, community-based efforts and global strategies for international cooperation. The health needs of women, children and adolescents, who make up the majority and the most vulnerable segment of the population, must be met. Malnutrition is the single most important cause of health problems through adult life, and affects 20 million children in Africa alone. Statistics are cited for infant mortality, vaccine-preventable diseases, diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections, infant mortality and maternal mortality. The key determinant of infant survival is female literacy. Existing scientific cooperation is the closet thing we have to a global international community. An example of applied scientific solutions to health care is the risk approach in maternal health care. 2 strategies of scientific cooperation have emerged: the international center model in a country or region to address a specific problem, and the task force model, as used effectively by WHO, UNICEF, and the Task Force for Child Survival. Research topics on health in developing countries are listed that could be tackled by universities and scientific networks, e.g. scientific research is lacking on how to make household hygiene effective in poor countries. A concerted global research effort and surveillance effort is needed for AIDS.