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We are Elrha, a force for change in the humanitarian community. The research and innovation we support equips the humanitarian community with the knowledge of what works, so people affected by crises get the right help when they need it most.
Our purpose is clear: to empower the humanitarian community to improve humanitarian response. We make this happen by supporting and championing the outcomes of robust research and proven innovations.
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Principal Investigators: Lisa Schwartz, McMaster & Matthew Hunt, McGill


• To develop evidence clarifying ethical and practical possibilities, challenges, and consequences of humanitarian organizations addressing or failing to address patients’ and families’ palliative needs during public health emergencies
• To inform realistic, context-sensitive guidance, education, and practices for the provision of palliative care during international humanitarian action
• To develop a baseline of current palliative care provisions for clinical and psychosocial care in humanitarian action against which progress can be measured.
Existing palliative care competencies may not transfer easily into crisis settings in the face of social-political or environmental catastrophe. HCPs require a framework for providing palliative care in humanitarian settings so they can offer something even when ‘there is nothing left to offer.’

Expected Outcomes

We aim to encourage humanitarian aid organizations to consider integrating palliative care in their programs and how best to do so. The outcomes of this study will help elucidate the realities of palliative care needs in humanitarian practice, and offer organizational policy makers evidence to base justifications for endorsing and resourcing palliative interventions in humanitarian action.

The 67th World Health Assembly called for more education and training in palliative care for health care professionals including for humanitarian workers. Our research will generate evidence about good practices, and help identify gaps in and training needs for humanitarian palliative care response. These can also inform decision-making processes for international humanitarian guidelines. The results will show whether there is sufficient evidence for, and if so, how palliative care can best be integrated in humanitarian response


Latest Updates

Television and Ebola

Jan 2019

How televisions can change disease perception & reduce stigma


How can cultural history of ‘health’ change disease perception & reduce stigma?

Dec 2018

A brief comparison of Influenza, 1918-1919, and Ebola, 2014-2015


Ideas on Dying in Honor in Guinea

Nov 2018

The study “Aid When there is ‘Nothing Left to Offer’” included a case study focusing on palliative care in Ebola Treatment Centres (ETCs) in Guinea during the 2014-16 outbreak. Its…


Making space for palliative care in humanitarian action: Reflections on obstacles to the integration of palliative care approaches in humanitarian healthcare

Oct 2017

Many situations arise in humanitarian crises when curative care is not the primary, or the only, mode for humanitarian healthcare: a woman with advanced cancer who has been forced to…


Out of the shadows: Palliative care in humanitarian healthcare

Mar 2017

On February 9th, the Humanitarian Health Ethics Research Group launched the first global survey on palliative care in humanitarian situations. This survey forms part of a larger R2HC-funded study led…



Peer Reviewed Ethics Related

Palliative care in humanitarian crises: always something to offer

Peer Reviewed Ethics Related

Moral experiences of humanitarian health professionals caring for patients who are dying or likely to die in a humanitarian crisis

Peer Reviewed Ethics Related

Palliative care in humanitarian crises: a review of the literature

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Ebola virus disease and palliative care in humanitarian crises

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