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A humanitarian approach to travel medicine?

Forced Migration Review
June 2019, FMR 61

Travel medicine (TM) as a specific field emerged in the 1980s, driven in great part by the pharmaceutical industry catering for tourists from northern countries visiting tropical areas. However, why should travel-tailored health care be reserved for wealthy travellers? What about the millions of vulnerable people forced to flee their homes in the face of violence, natural catastrophe and extreme poverty, who run much greater health risks than tourists?

At Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) we have been providing acute health care to displaced people for decades but little attention has been paid to continuity of care along migration routes. In order to develop a more comprehensive approach for people on the move, we decided to pilot a formalised TM service within our projects in Greece. However, there are a number of ethical challenges and moral dilemmas inherent in such an approach.



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