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Attacks on Hospitals: an Alarming Problem for Military Medicine as well as for Humanitarian Medicine

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.

The evolving role of CSR in international development: Evidence from Canadian extractive companies’ involvement in community health initiatives in low-income countries

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.

Response to 'On Complicity and Compromise by Chiara Lepora and Robert Goodin

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.

Dilemmas in access to medicines: a humanitarian perspective

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.

When free is not fair: the case of vaccine donations

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 in humanitarian medicine

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.

Engaging with National Authorities: Médecins Sans Frontières’s experience in Guinea during the Ebola epidemic

The  Ebola  epidemic  continues  to  be  instructive.  This  was  indeed  the  conclusion  of  the  "Focus"  on  this subject  in  our  inaugural  issue:  the  magnitude  of  this  unprecedented  crisis,  its  failures  and  successes, required  that  there  were  lessons  to  be  learned.  This  is  what  Marc  Poncin,  the  former  coordinator  for Doct

Palliative Care in Humanitarian Crises

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 Ebola clinical trials: a precedent for research ethics in disasters

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.

Defective interfering genomes and Ebola virus persistence

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.

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