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Humanitarian Healthcare Ethics is a place to find practical and educational material for humanitarian healthcare workers as well as students and scholars of humanitarian healthcare ethics.  The website developed out of empirical research on the ethical dilemmas faced by humanitarian healthcare professionals working in humanitarian crises, disasters or areas of extreme poverty. If you want to contribute to the website or provide comments please send us your feedback

Get the RSS feed or bookmark this page as it is updated regularly. 


Monday, February 23, 2015

Now Available -

A report on a qualitative study supported by the Humanitarian Healthcare Ethics Research Consortium,

by Elysée NouvetElizabeth Chan, and Lisa Schwartz, McMaster University 

English version: BPREP: Beneficiary perspectives on the performance of humanitarian healthcare missions in Nicaragua


Spanish version: Perspectivas de los beneficiarios sobre el desempeño de las brigadas de atención médica Humanitaria en Nicaragüa: El estudio BPREP nicaragüense.




Monday, January 12, 2015

Come out on Wednesday, January 14 for a timely lecture on Ethics and Ebola:

McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada, 4:30-6:00pm, MCDL 3020.



Monday, January 5, 2015

HumEthNet team member, Lynda Redwood-Campbell, featured in article that revisits her experiences in the humanitarian efforts that followed the 2004 tsunami.



Tuesday, December 23, 2014



Thursday, November 27, 2014

5th Annual Workshop on Military Medical Ethics of the

International Committee of Military Medicine

For the fifth time, the ICMM Reference Centre for Education on IHL and Ethics together with the Medical Services Directorate of the Swiss Armed Forces and the Center for Ethics of Zurich University organise their annual joint Workshop on Military Medical Ethics. It will take place from 7-9 May 2015 at Forum Lilienberg in Ermatingen/ Switzerland.

The main topic for the 2015 workshop will be Ethics in Epidemics (Ebola), with a special focus on the involvement of military actors. Thus, we invite papers on topics addressing general ethical questions faced during epidemics such as Ebola, as well as from the list of topics below.

  • The duty to treat
  • Ethical aspects of the use of experimental treatment and research during epidemics
  • Ethical justifications for infection management and containment measures such as forced treatment, and quarantine
  • Presentation of recent case reports or case studies
  • The involvement of military actors
  • Principles associated with the allocation of scarce or limited resources
Any other topics of relevance for the topic and more generally on military medical ethics are also welcome as there might be an open session on one day.

Deadline for Proposals
Please send your paper proposals/ abstracts together with a short bibliography via email to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  no later than 11th January 2015.
You will be notified until the end of January 2015 whether your paper has been accepted. In that case, we will invite you as a speaker to our workshop and cover the conference fee and your travel expenses.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014



Monday, October 27, 2014


Reflections, vol.2 no.2, Autumn.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

NEW PUBLICATION from HumEthNet member John Pringle. 

The Unprecedented Lead-Poisoning Outbreak: Ethical Issues in a Troubling Broader Context.

Public Health Ethics.    First published online: September 11, 2014  




























A young boy sits on a stack of ore sacks in the mining processing site in Bagega village.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Saving The Enemy? Medical Ethics in Conflict

Symposium, October 6 in Munich




Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Humanitarian Health Ethics Analysis Tool: HHEAT Handbook is now available to download online.



The HHEAT is an ethical analysis tool designed to help humanitarian healthcare workers make ethical decisions. It consists of 3 components: (1) a summary card highlighting key questions, (2) a handbook providing an overview of the tool, and (3) a worksheet for recording the decision-making process. The tool was inspired by research examining ethical challenges and moral distress experienced by humanitarian workers. The HHEAT has been tested and validated by humanitarian workers and experts from the fields of humanitarian medicine and nursing, as well as applied ethics. 





Monday, August 18, 2014

Caution called for in the face of EBOLA interventions

Recently, hhe's Lisa's Schwartz was asked to comment on the ethics of pursuing experimental treatment and prevention interventions in relation to the recent Ebola outbreak. Listen to her interview on CBC Hamilton and read her comments on Impact Ethics blog from the Novel Tech Ethics research team in the Facutly of Medicine at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada).  


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Participants wanted!

Get involved in a new study:Investigating Researchers' Experience of Ethics in Post-Disaster Research 





Thursday, July 24, 2014

Case Study: Co-opting of Aid Organizations

Case studies are available on the hhe website for personal or group use.  If you cannot find a case reflective of a situation you have encountered or if you have a case you would like to share with others in this way, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Setting: A remote health clinic in the Horn of Africa
Scenario: An international med
ical NGO is staffing a health clinic in a remote village located near a large-scale agriculture enterprise operated by a multinational corporation. Many of the clinic's patients are migrant workers who have come to the region seeking work at the commercial farm.




Monday, July 7, 2014

The Humanitarian Health Ethics website was recenlty cited in Dr. Kirsten Patrick's contribution to the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) blog:

Voluntourism - Call it a spade and use it carefully 



Monday, June 9, 2014

Get involved!

General invitation for participation in an interdisciplinary, qualitative research study, Ethics in Humanitarian Healthcare Practice and Policy During Acute Crisis Response in Lower and Middle Income Countries.




Tuesday, June 3, 2014

World Health Assembly's recent look at Health Care Under Attack

by Kacper Niburski, hhe contributor

Health can bridge the political. At its core, it is a fundamental cry of the humanity in all of us. Disease does not discriminate nor does sickness pledge partisanships. Only we do.

The sixty-seventh World Health Assembly, housed by the WHO and the United Nations Foundation, focused on this mutual, worldwide aspiration for health as both a governmental tool and an individual right. Attended by delegates from all WHO member states, the conference housed technical briefings, debates, and discussions surrounding global health issues like nutrition, universal health coverage, patient’s rights, and non-communicable diseases.

Underscoring the majority of these topics was the growing concern of the rising incidence of attacks on health care workers. On the World Health+SocialGood channel – an online platform developed by the WHO and UN to bring about beneficial change via social media – Christy Feig, Director of Communication at the WHO, led two different interviews that elaborated on the Technical Briefing, “Health Care Under Attack: A Call for Action”. Among those interviewed were Ms. Valerie Amos, The Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Dr. Rudi Coninx, Coordinator of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response, Dr. Rick Brennan, Director for Emergency Response at the WHO, and Pierre Gentile, Head of Health Care in Danger Project at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Open letter by researchers from the EU-funded COST Action project on ethical issues in disasters - Refugees and the EU: Human dignity is at stake

Syrian refugee camp on the Turkish border for displaces people of the Syrian civil war, Sept. 2012. Source.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Live-streaming event, Wednesday, May 21, 2014:

67thWorld Health Assembly 

WHA Technical Briefing: “ Health Care Under Attack: A Call for Action”

There will be interpretation in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish

Attacks on health-care workers and facilities are increasing, in both conflict and non-conflict settings. The targeting of health-care workers and facilities has grave consequences for the delivery of care and the right to health in such settings.

The objective of the briefing is to raise awareness of the scale and nature of attacks on health care, to affirm the basic principles of the sanctity of health care and the right to health, and to share views from national as well as international perspectives.

The panel discussion will include representatives of Member States as well as representatives from

WHO (Dr. Bruce Aylward, Dr. Ala Alwan),

OCHA (Ms Valerie Amos),

ICRC (Mr. Peter Maurer)





Wednesday, May 14, 2014

TODAY... HumEthNet member, Elysée Nouvet on Nicaraguan Perceptions of Humanitarian Healthcare Missions:



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Complicity, entanglement and being implicated: the double effect of humanitarian healthcare practice

by Lisa Schwartz

On the 4th and 5th of November 2013, Paul Bouvier of the ICRC and Nicolas Tavaglione of the University of Geneva hosted a symposium called “From humanity to complicity? Ethical duties and dilemmas of humanitarian action in wars and armed conflicts” at the Fondation Brocher, in Hermance, Geneva, Switzerland. Those gathered included philosophers and legal scholars, and members of the ICRC and MSF. It was a productive mix of scholars, practitioners and policy makers that created a welcome space for discussion of ethical theories of complicity in humanitarian healthcare practice. The event permitted analysis of the ways in which neutrality and independence are sometimes tested through the instrumentalization of aid agencies. Paul Bouvier framed the event by asking, ‘How can it be possible to do the work of humanitarian aid without abandoning humanitarian principles?’, which Nicolas Tavaglione illustrated with a pivotal example of providing care for amputation after Sharia punishment. Would it be better to refuse to treat or to provide the best treatment possible while feeling complicit in the amputation?

Highlights of the presentations helped identify the conceptual underpinnings of the legal and theoretical ethics of humanitarian practice, and what can be seen to be complicit with unethical actions of others. Chiara Lepora and her co-author Rob Goodin asked if it is possible to act during violence without becoming part of it. They described key features of ‘complicity’ highlighting most significantly that it includes awareness of and intent to comply with immoral actions of others. This raised the possibility of another concept where humanitarian aid workers become unwittingly entangled or accidentally implicated rather than acting intentionally.

Hugo Slim opened the session with an overview of his seminal work, and asked the critical question whether there is or ought to be a healthcare ethics of humanitarian practice or whether this opens us to humanitarian exceptionalism that ought not to be tolerated at the risk of compromising significant principles of health ethics. This is a key question for future projects, and proposals need to be articulated if there is agreement that the context demands specific moral direction. At its heart, Slim proposed that complicity must be attended to so that the moral integrity of the actor can stay in tact at a fundamental level.





Monday, March 31, 2014
NEW! Winter/Spring edition of the Reflections Newsletter now available. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thomas Pogge | Thursday, April 10, 2014 | McMaster University, HSC-1A6, 3-5pm

Come listen to the author of the critically acclaimed Politics as Usual: What Lies Behind the Pro-Poor Rhetoric (2010), World Poverty and Human Rights (2008), and Director of the Global Justice Program at Yale University
Some of the reviews for World Poverty and Human Rights
"If only everyone living in affluent nations were to read World Poverty and Human Rights! Pogge's combination of rigorous moral argument and judicious use of the relevant facts compels us to acknowledge that the existing global economic order is ethically indefensible. A wonderful book that could do an immense amount of good."

Peter Singer

"One of the very best books known to me on global inequality, the most important moral problem facing the world today. Pogge shows convincingly how we, and the institutions we support, can best try to make the present world order less unjust. These proposals combine, in a remarkable way, moral depth, clear thinking, inventiveness, and practical good sense."
Derek Parfit, All Souls College, Oxford

"Pogge's gift is to recognize as imaginary the boundaries between economics and ethics. A striking example is the historically derived and currently dysfunctional way we apply patents for medicines. With simplicity and clarity, Pogge offers an analysis without villains, a remedy without losers and a practical path to fundamental reform."
Carl Nathan, Cornell University




Thursday, March 6, 2014


presents, in collaboration with McMaster University's Department of Philosophy, and the Canadian Coallition for Global Health Research a FREE film screening of... 
























POST FILM PANEL DISCUSSANTS include: Diane Enns, Professor in Politics and Ethics, Lisa Schwartz, Arnold L Johnson Chair in Healthcare Ethics, and Neil Arya, M.D. Waterloo, ON. For more information contact Nancy Johnson at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Admission is FREE.



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

hhe in the Field: Dr. Lynda Redwood-Campbell takes part in typhoon Haiyan relief efforts

In November 2013 typhoon Haiyan devastated portions of Southeast Asia, leaving more than six thousand people dead and millions displaced. Humanitarian Healthcare Ethics (hhe) colleague and Hamilton physician, Dr. Lynda Redwood-Campbell, took part in relief efforts at a Canada Red Cross field hospital in the central part of the Philippines.  



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