Panel Discussion on Peace & Health
Panelists: Mark Loeb, Ellen Amster, Lisa Schwartz, Harry Shannon, Anne Niec
McMaster University, Thursday, January 28, 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm, HSC 4E20
 
What is the role of health care and health care practitioners in questions of peace and conflict?  Public health is the first to suffer in war and civil conflict–the destruction of water and sewer systems, loss of electricity, wounding and suffering of civilians, disease and food shortages.  Health care practitioners like Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) have literally transcended conflicts and politics to care of populations most in need.  Doctors, nurses, and other practitioners have created networks for cooperation, even between countries at war.  In this panel, we consider how health and health care have been and can be a powerful force for peace and social justice.  What is the role of health in solving global problems and issues?  What is the effect of conflict on health and health systems?  How can health care practitioners negotiate conflict, create peace?  What are innovative strategies and histories of health care practitioners to promote and create peace?  Peace is close to home as well as between nations–how can medicine promote peace in the family, the community, and in the individual as well?
 
Anne Niec: Violence too Close to Home. I will discuss conflict through the lens of family violence, recognizing that most violence occurs at home – what do we mean by this; what is its impact; what as health care providers can we do – recognition and action; and above all the role of compassion within ourselves and each other.
 
Harry Shannon: Reframing Health? The impact of political violence on Palestinians. I will summarize the results of several studies of Palestinians that I have worked on, looking at health effects of conflict.  One particular question arises: should psychological responses to conflict be seen as ‘abnormal’ or are they normal responses to abnormal situations? 
 
Mark Loeb: Conflict and Infectious Diseases. In order to fully appreciate how healthcare can serve as a powerful force for peace, it is important to understand what the health implications are in conflict situations. This presentation will describe the key enablers of the spread of potentially lethal infectious diseases in conflict situations and will describe what is required to mitigate the spread of outbreaks and treat affected persons.  Such a broader understanding might help reduce the threat of conflict when the impact to the populations involved are fully understood.
 
Lisa Schwartz: Intervals of Peace during Conflict. How can patients and healthcare providers be protected in conflict zones? Just war theory has radicalized care, politicization of public health interventions has endangered the protections of the Geneva Convention, and Humanitarian principles of impartiality and neutrality have been misinterpreted in some contexts. Recent guidance proposes strategies which can enable aid access when peace is scarce.
 
Ellen Amster: Global Health vs. Inter-National Health as a Basis for Peace. Public health arose originally at the level of individual states, as a relationship between the citizen and the body politic.  International health arose from WWI and WWII, but the WHO suffers from the same limitations as its birthplace, the UN.  What are the limitations of international health and the promise of global health?
 
Where is HSC 4E20? Take Red elevators to the Fourth floor. After exiting elevator, go straight down the main corridor towards the Yellow section. The room is on the right hand side, between the red and yellow elevators. McMaster University is in Hamilton, Canada. 

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