La menace du typhus qui sévit en Europe orientale et dans les Balkans pendant la première moitié du XXe siècle fut exploitée pour dénoncer le péril bolchevique, puis utilisée par les nazis pour séquestrer les populations juives.
Ludwik Rajchman, qui fut le premier directeur de l’organisation qui préfigura l’OMS et dont le rôle fut central dans la création de l’Unicef, eut un destin exemplaire qui se confond avec l’histoire tragique du XXe siècle depuis l’agitation révolutionnaire de 1905 jusqu’aux pages les plus noires de la guerre froide.
Ludwik Rajchman was a man caught up in the whirlwind of international politics. He suffered from the conquest of his country, Poland, by both Nazism and Communism yet managed to rise to eminence as leader of the Health Organisation of the League of Nations and then of UNICEF.
As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues its dreadful march, Duncan McLean looks at the 600-year-old practice of isolating individuals and communities in order to bring an end to epidemics and assesses the effectiveness of such measures.
Over the past ten years, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has provided medical care to almost 118,000 victims of sexual violence. Integrating related care into MSF general assistance to populations affected by crisis and conflicts has presented a considerable institutional struggle and continues to be a challenge. Tensions regarding the role of MSF in providing care to victims of sexual violence and when facing the multiple challenges inherent in dealing with this crime persist.
West Africa is still paying the price for its poor response to the Ebola epidemic. Where an early response could have prevented the worst, failures on all levels allowed Ebola to spread, exposing a deep rift between the population and political class of the countries affected. Unless all actors learn from the crisis, a similar disaster may be just a matter of time.
As part of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Additional Protocols I and II of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions and other treaties provide for the protection of patients, medical personnel and health infrastructures during armed conflicts. They recognize the primacy of medical ethics in times of war, notably the principle of non-discrimination. Attacks against hospitals or health care providers during armed conflicts signal a blatant disregard for such protections. A state of affairs where IHL is ignored, denied or revisited has far-reaching consequences for the medical profession.
Overseas development agencies and international finance organisations view the exploitation of minerals as a strategy for alleviating poverty in low-income countries. However, for local communities that are directly affected by extractive industry projects, economic and social benefits often fail to materialise. By engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), transnational companies operating in the extractive industries ‘space’ verbally commit to preventing environmental impacts and providing health services in low-income countries.
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.