Soon we realized that surgery, in spite of its great accomplishments, has only a small impact in the overall health of a country. Nevertheless, its fast, objective and sometimes spectacular results make it an excellent means to gain credibility, confidence and acceptance from a community. People from rural areas, who are usually very distrustful after unfulfilled promises from politicians, change their attitude rapidly in view of surgical results, making it easier to organize other health-impacting programs, such as nutrition, immunization, child and maternal health, etc. For this reason, we decided to organize programs in “integral family health” following our surgical activities.
Our experience has brought us to a second conclusion: Health programs cannot be successful if they are carried out independently without coordination with other development programs. We believe that a plan in human development has to be an integrated approach to improve the quality of life in every aspect. Finally, if we want this plan to be sustainable, it has to preserve nature and the environment and should be elaborated with community participation, respecting civil liberties.