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New blog posted by Elysee Arequipa Nouvet and Lisa Schwartz from ALNAP considers the importance of palliative care in humanitarian crises.

“If there is one thing the Ebola crisis has generated these past 18 months, it is widespread recognition that globally we could be better prepared for responding swiftly and ethically to complex pandemics. Ethical issues that surfaced in the panicked first months of the last Ebola crisis have ranged from debates on whether or not healthcare workers in non-Ebola affected countries have a duty to respond and assist their colleagues in other affected countries, to the absence of a standard of care for treatment of affected patients.”

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Surprisingly little or no attention is given to the question: What are the responsibilities of humanitarian healthcare teams, if any, vis a vis the palliative needs of patients? The primary goal of healthcare in humanitarian crises is to save lives but what happens when there is no medicine and a patient cannot be saved?

“A division between palliative and curative approaches may also be a luxury of more resourced healthcare systems, and incongruent with the experience of life, care and death in many parts of the world.”

This might be a good time to re-evaluate the ethical possibilities, limitations and responsibilities of healthcare in humanitarian crises. Read the full blog here.

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