Case Study: Co-opting of Aid Organizations

An international medical 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. Employees receive low wages by local standards, work very long hours, and have poor living conditions. Many of the workers and their family members present to the clinic with signs of malnutrition. A number of them also report respiratory complaints and skin and eye problems, which they associate with their handling of pesticides on the large farm.

The staff of the health clinic are concerned that their presence is enabling this pattern of mistreatment by providing free healthcare to the farm workers. They worry they are directly assisting a for-profit industry by taking over the company’s responsibility for the health and welfare of its employees. There are even reports that the agriculture corporation is using the promise of free healthcare at the clinic to recruit migrant workers from other regions. Although clinic staff do not want to see their work being co-opted by a multinational corporation, they also recognize the need to provide healthcare to the migrant workers, who might otherwise continue suffering from treatable illnesses.

Read the full case.

More about case studies…

Case studies are available on the hhe website for personal or group use. They can be used in conjunction with the Humanitarian Health Ethics Analysis Tool (HHEAT) or on their own.

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

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