Chiara Lepora and Robert Goodin invite us to join their insightful ‘conversation’ on complicity and compromise. Their book makes a dense, utterly precise and rewarding reading, as one proceeds stepwise through the logic of their philosophical arguments. For those unfamiliar with the relatively new discipline of ‘humanitarian ethics’, it might be disconcerting at first to see humanitarian actions brought to illustrate theories on complicity, with the Rwandan refugees crisis of 1994 and the tortured patient taken as two exemplary cases.
We challenge the assertion made by Govind Persad and Ezekiel Emanuel (Aug 27, p 932) that “expanding access to less effective or more toxic [antiretroviral] treatments rather than requiring the worldwide best treatment in all settings” is ethically justifiable.
On Oct 10, 2015, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) rejected Pfizer's proposed donation of 1 million doses of its branded pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). The news caused a stir in the global health community; after all, free essential health goods might be considered something to be celebrated.
Palliative care interventions have historically been neglected in the practice of humanitarian medicine. This may come as a surprise, since it is a sombre reality that medical practitioners are frequently witness to death and dying in their response to humanitarian crises.
With the expertise acquired over the past years on the Ebola virus disease, MSF was compelled to take on responsibilities beyond its usual first responder mandate during the Ebola crisis in West Africa. By winning the trust of the President of Guinea despite some initial stormy relations, MSF was able to contribute significantly to the definition of the national strategies to fight the outbreak, while facilitating the deployment of its operation to care for the people affected by Ebola.
Medical humanitarian organizations don’t generally deal well with death. This may come as a surprise, since it’s a sombre reality of this line of work that frontline staff are often witness to death and dying. Contrary to the humanitarian’s general propensity for self-aggrandizement, it’s not always possible to save lives. So what then of the oft-cited dual imperative to alleviate suffering and preserve dignity?
The West African Ebola epidemic has set in motion a collective endeavour to conduct accelerated clinical trials, testing unproven but potentially lifesaving interventions in the course of a major public health crisis. This unprecedented effort was supported by the recommendations of an ad hoc ethics panel convened in August 2014 by the WHO.
Michael Jacobs and colleagues (The Lancet, 2016, Vol. 388, p. 498-503) provide clinical and virological evidence of a relapse of Ebola virus disease (EVD) presenting as acute meningo-encephalitis 9 months after recovery from an acute infection. However exceptional, this case adds to an increasing number of reports suggesting that Ebola virus can persist for months in immune-privileged anatomical sites, such as semen, ocular tissues, breastmilk, and the central nervous system.
2016 will already be remembered as a year of great setbacks in the pursuit of global health and wellbeing; mass social upheaval in the Middle East and north Africa, driven by conflict and a legacy of persistent structural violence, continues to challenge the notion of our shared humanity, while the end of the world's worst Ebola virus outbreak in west Africa has prompted sombre reflection and fierce critique of systemic failures in global outbreak response.
This article aims to advance understanding and discussion of perceptions studies as a method for strengthening humanitarian performance. Perceptions studies are qualitative studies produced for and often by humanitarian organisations, based on analysis of local perceptions of humanitarian efforts. While these studies are normatively asserted as valuable within the humanitarian sector, there has been no synthesis to date of their potential and limitations.