No endorsement for mission

ON behalf of World Vision Hong Kong, I would like to respond to the articles 'Mercy doctor probed over China mission' and 'Bad medicine man' (Sunday Morning Post, October 9). Although the articles do not state that World Vision was involved in the Christian Medical Association's (CMA) mission in early September, we would like to clarify the following points: First, we would like to stress that there is no organisational involvement between World Vision and the CMA, nor has there ever been any co-operative working relationship between the two groups. Files and records going back to 1986 show that at no time has World Vision provided any gifts-in-kind medical supplies or equipment to Dr Mel Alexander or to the CMA.

The only point of involvement between World Vision United States and CMA has been a brief 'public service announcement' published in the April/May issue of World Vision magazine. We believe that at this point Calvin Howe, a valued supporter of World Vision's work, heard about the CMA's mission to China and subsequently went on this mission on his own initiative.

Terry Madison, editor of World Vision , made the following comments after he learnt the outcome of CMA's mission to China: 'I was distressed that one of the best-read columns in our magazine has been used to hurt highly-motivated doctors wanting to help the people of China on a short-term visit under the sole sponsorship of the CMA.

'Our brief mention of the CMA mission to China in no way endorsed the organisation, any more than a local newspaper can endorse all the public service announcements it runs in its pages.

'The column operates on the level of trust. We expect Christian agencies to be trustworthy, and in that spirit we make news of their special programmes and literature available to our readers to react to as they see fit . . .' World Vision has put in place several policies for the use of gifts-in-kind. Included is one on the provision of pharmaceuticals which states that items with shelf dates must have at least 12 months dating remaining at the time of arrival in the recipient country.

World Vision is represented in the Association of Evangelical Relief and Development Organisations and a World Vision staff member is co-chairing the Inter-agency Task Force. The task force has recently developed a set of Inter-agency standards on gifts-in-kind.

TIMOTHY MA Acting Chief Executive World Vision Hong Kong