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Obstacles and Opportunities in the Application of Science and Technology to Development: Summary of Discussion Geraldine Richmond University of Oregon T he discussion following a presentation on technology for health care indicated that Iranians are using the Internet increasingly for research- ing health care topics and treatment options, but not to the level of more developed countries. In France, treatment choice typically rests with physicians; however, in the United States joint decision making between patient and physi- cian has become the norm. In Iran, there are problems that are more immediate and basic than in the United States. For example, urban sanitary water remains an important public health concern. As patients are given more information, they are more likely to choose a lower amount of expensive care. One great challenge in developing countries is is to focus on very simple but effective strategies, such as solar-generated energy, limited medication, and so forth, rather than focusing on spending money on large, expensive items. In Iran, much of the nationâs health care is provided by universities. The question of whether there is a strong connection between researchers and practi- tioners was discussed. When universities assumed responsibility for health care services, there was much uncertainty about the outcome. In Iran, religion does not generally interfere with medical decisions. After the revolution, Eastern-style medicine was emphasized over Western-style medicine. Today this is acknowledged as a poor decision. The discussion following a presentation on the role of science and technol- ogy in addressing problems of water security focused on water usage in Iran and the United States. Eighty percent of Iranâs water is used in agriculture, primarily in rural areas with the lowest literacy rates. During the discussion a desire to change this situation was expressed. Using water more efficiently will require 45
46 OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNTIES IN THE APPLICATION OF S&T more education for farmers; however, very simple techniques should be employed when appropriate. Seawater desalting is currently not economically feasible in most of the world. In Iran, there is a heavy reliance on water from mountains, where climate change is a problem. Furthermore, public awareness of climate change is not high in Iran. One option in dealing with water scarcity is pricing the water for its scarcity value. Training for water conservation only seems to be effective during droughts, and the effectiveness is short lived. There is a lack of appreciation for this issue by many segments of the economy. The security of water for personal use may become a problem. Distribution and simple uses are important factors to consider. There is a lack of social science research on use of water resources.