Many models of economic development rest on unexam-ined colonial and neocolonial assumptions and should be interrogated by research able to link local social processes to large-scale structures long in the making. Alternative models of transformation based on social justice with cooperative, collaborative approaches have been advanced. In such models, success is measured in terms of health and education outcomes as well as equitable distribution of and access to resources. The health of the poor is given priority, and the language of social and economic rights is central to this model.
With deep knowledge of local health effects of many economic development endeavors and approaches, as well as local systems of meaning, medical anthropologists are in a position to encourage novel ways of promoting just, equitable development. The dimensions of the global AIDS pandemic, which has in the course of the past two decades become the leading single infectious cause of young adult death in much of the world, brings the shortcomings of past approaches into sharp relief.
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