In 1971, when Abdul Sajid embarked on his career as a medical educator, international collaboration in the field was a relatively primitive enterprise. By the time of his tragic death in 1992 he had played a major role in shaping this growing movement and was admired throughout the world for his thoughtful, constructive, and always sensitive contributions. The International Handbook of Medical Education is a fitting tribute to his initiative, as well as a reminder of how much remains still to be done to assure a more appropriate fit between health professions education and the health needs of both developed and developing nations.
An early effort to promote international dialogue was the 1953 First World Conference on Medical Education, held in London under the sponsorship of the World Medical Association. It attracted some 600 participants representing 127 Faculties of Medicine in 62 countries. In his opening address Sir Lionel Whitby, President of the Conference, noted: "The world . . . has become so shrunken . . . that we can no longer take a parochial view of our problems." During the ensuing days, 91 formal papers were delivered, and innumerable commentators shared information about the ways in which their institutions and nations were coping with such common problems as student selection, curriculum development, and instructional and evaluation procedures. Chicago was the venue for the 1959 Second World Conference, which was organized and conducted in a similar manner.
Seven years later, reflecting on these two events, Dr. Raymond B. Allen, President of the 1959 assembly, summarized in these words the central theme of both meetings: "The ideals of excellence--the philosophy of the first-rate end of lifelong learning--epitomized the concern of medical Faculties throughout the world. The clear call was to adapt medical education to the mounting challenge of the twentieth-century revolution in science and technology.
Although virtually no sustained action resulted from those conferences, the World Health Organization (WHO), whose primary mission is that of directing