On 20 January 1951, at the height of the Korean War, seven distinguished doctors published a letter in the Lancet expressing concern about the arms race, the impact of arms spending on healthcare (“each pound spent on bombs means … more dead babies now”) and the apathetic drift towards another world war.
The signatories (Richard Doll, Alfred Esterman, Ian Gilliland, Horace Joules, Duncan Leys, Lionel Penrose, and Martin Pollock) argued that doctors could use their unique expertise and authority to work towards disarmament:
“We appeal to all our fellow doctors who think there may yet be an alternative to merely providing treatment for casualties ; we ask them to join us, in the spirit of our chosen profession of healing, in doing all in their power to halt preparation for war …”
The letter provoked many responses, to the Lancet and privately. Not all agreed with its perspective. Doll et…
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