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Science in developing countries faces persistent problems, such as inadequate funding, little capacity to use scientific information, and a demoralising history of failure. But such nations also have some brilliant researchers and many intellectually stimulating problems too obvious and pressing to ignore.

In this letter to Science, Ishenkumba Kahwa of the University of the West Indies argues that, if developing countries are to progress in science and technology, they should 'decouple' research from national poverty and handicaps. This would allow them instead to target science and technology questions of global interest, boosting the potential for endogenous research to find worldwide application.

In a response to Kahwa's letter, Ildeu de Castro Moreira of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, disagrees with such a policy, to a degree at least. He argues that there is no contradiction between making good science and facing important problems at home. Rather, he says, the challenge is twofold: to participate in international research and development, and to tackle critical local problems.

Link to both letters in Science

Reference: Science 302, 1677 (2003)