Though ethicists have examined the ethics of humanitarian priority-setting–including around the initiation of humanitarian projects–to our knowledge, none have undertaken a focused examination of the ethics of closing humanitarian projects.
It is critical to examine the ethical implications of closing projects and consider how closure can be accomplished in ways that are consistent with humanitarians’ ethical commitments including minimizing harm, being accountable, upholding impartiality and neutrality, and demonstrating respect.
In partnership with Médecins du Monde-Canada, the team is made up of Matthew Hunt, Ryoa Chung, Lisa Eckenwiler and John Pringle.
See HumEthNet members Dónal O’Mathúna, Lisa Schwartz and Matthew Hunt discuss the important role ethics plays throughout the research cycle and within public health research during a humanitarian crisis.
Health professionals’ lived experiences of palliative care provision in humanitarian crisis: Moral experiences confronting the suffering of patients who are dying or likely to die in settings of war, disaster, or epidemic.
The poster is based on ongoing research for a R2HC funded project entitled:
The research project is funded by Elrha’s Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) Programme. The Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme aims to improve health outcomes by strengthening the evidence base for public health interventions in humanitarian crises. Visit www.elrha.org/work/r2hc for more information. The R2HC programme is funded equally by the Wellcome Trust and DFID, with Elrha overseeing the programme’s execution and management.
One year into this project, we are finalizing data collection, moving forward with analysis, and have begun dissemination activities. Progress includes:
We have conducted interviews with 108 stakeholders, over 90% of these being with stakeholders in the three countries most severely affected by the epidemic: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Research participants, people who opted not to participate in research projects for which they were solicited, and proxy-decision makers who made treatment decisions for relations too ill to provide consent
Research Ethics Board members who evaluated proposed research projects, either for national-level boards serving affected countries or for organization-specific boards operating within international organizations that assisted with the response
Investigators who led or supported research projects conducted during the outbreak, as well as healthcare providers who worked on the frontlines of the epidemic, administering experimental interventions and monitoring patients’ condition
Public sector representatives who were called on to oversee or regulate research conducted during the epidemic: decision-makers in health and other ministries involved in planning the response to the epidemic; representatives of Ebola survivors’ associations and other civil society groups; others
We have spoken to people involved with a range of research projects: vaccine trials, pharmaceutical and other intervention trials, and observational studies.
We have conducted a review of publications exploring or addressing ethical and practical challenges associated with research conducted in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak. Over 2,000 peer-reviewed articles were selected for screening by members of the research team; of these, over 100 were selected for inclusion in the review. Findings are currently being written up for publication.
Analysis of interviews is underway. Draft report of findings will be ready by November 2017.
We are preparing meetings to present and discuss draft report of findings with stakeholders and research participants in West Africa in November-December 2017. Participants’ feedback will be incorporated into analysis and output materials.
We are preparing a meeting of co-investigators in Hamilton in December 2017. This will serve to finalize findings, prepare a recommendations draft paper, and finalize components of a webinar (to be held in January).
Outputs to date
Nouvet, Elysée (2016) Recherche anthropologique au service de la santé publique : méthodes, considérations, et EER (évaluation ethnographique rapide). Training session presented to the Comité National d’Évaluation de la Recherche en Santé (CNERS), Conakry, Guinée, le 19 décembre
Schwartz, Lisa (2016) L’éthique de recherche socio-anthropologique. Training session presented to the Comité National d’Évaluation de la Recherche en Santé (CNERS), Conakry, Guinée, le 19 décembre
Nouvet, Elysée & Schwartz, Lisa (2017) From the front lines: Trialing research ethics in the time of Ebola. Paper presented at the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine. Toronto, Canada. April 28th
Nouvet, Elysée (2017) The need to care, learn, and improvise: Enacting research ethics during the West Africa Ebola outbreak. Paper accepted for presentation at Ethox: Oxford Global Health and Bioethics International Conference. University of Oxford, Oxford, England. July 17-18th
Pringle, John (2017) Lessons in research ethics: Experiences of clinical research participation during the West Africa Ebola crisis. Paper accepted for presentation at Ethox: Oxford Global Health and Bioethics International Conference. University of Oxford, Oxford, England. July 17-18th
Pringle, John. Ethical Design of Vaccine Trials in Emerging Infections Workshop. Hosted in conjunction with the Oxford Global Health and Bioethics International Conference and Sponsored by a Wellcome Strategic Award and the Ethox Centre. University of Oxford. July 18-19, 2017
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan shares its northern border with the Syrian Arab Republic, and has been one of the main receiving countries of fleeing refugees since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011. Currently over 650,000 Syrian refugees live in Jordan, most outside of refugee camps (Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, 2015).
Refugees face many significant health concerns, both acute and chronic. While some are related to the conflict such as injuries and infections, non-communicable diseases claim the most Syrian lives (UNHCR, 2016b). Refugees receive care within the extensive Jordanian health system, which includes public, private and NGO facilities and services. The influx of refugees has put increased strain on both medical and human resources within the Ministry of Health in Jordan.
This paper examined factors affecting provision and accessibility of palliative care Syrian refugees. Palliative care focuses on providing relief from symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness for patients and families (Razzak & Smith, 2014). Formal palliative care services are only available in the capital city of Amman: one in-patient palliative care unit and one home-based care service (Al Qadire et al., 2014). Jordan has no national policies on palliative care, nor palliative care education for health care providers.
Factors influencing provision and accessibility of palliative care services for refugees fall into three distinct categories:
Financial factors include costs to the patients and families for registration documents, user fees, medications and transportation. The health care system also incurred sizeable costs from providing care for the incoming refugees in addition to citizens.
Systemic and organizational factors complicate access to care through rigorous identification and registration requirements for refugees. Health care services are not evenly dispersed, nor are they equally accessible to all. Strict regulations surrounding the distribution and use of opioids restrict use for pain management.
Important cultural and ideological factors include a tradition of non-disclosure about poor prognosis, and the role of the family unit in decision-making and caring for patients. Many Muslims have strong religious beliefs about illness and death, which are reinforced by cultural norms. Finally, negative perceptions, misconceptions, and lack of awareness about palliative care, pain management and the use of opioids play an important role.
In conclusion, some future directions for research and policy are proposed for the national and international levels. These will support improvement and expansion of palliative care services in Jordan as a resource- and cost-effective way to provide better care for refugees and citizens alike.