Medical care and social justice in the jungles of Myanmar

The Lancet, 2016, 388 (10058), p2345–2347
Author: Timothy Holtz
“The past year was the worst year for displacement since World War 2. In 2015 alone, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there were an estimated 12·4 million newly displaced individuals, including 8·6 million internally displaced people (IDPs) and 1·8 million refugees, quadrupling the number of newly displaced people in just 4 years. The sudden and urgent plight of persons from Syria caught up in a civil war is well known, but for more than 60 years the ethnic Kayin (Karen) in eastern Myanmar (Burma) have been enduring human rights violations, oppression, and displacement in their long struggle for human rights and autonomy.”
Find article here.

WHO calls for immediate safe evacuation of the sick and wounded from conflict areas

World Health Organization, 30 September 2016
“WHO is calling on belligerents in Syria to allow for the immediate and safe evacuation of the sick and wounded from all areas affected by the conflict, including eastern Aleppo. The Organization is also calling for a halt of attacks on health care workers and facilities.”
Find news release here.

Aleppo’s dying children and shattered health system: is there light at the end of the tunnel?

The Conversation, 23 August 2016
Author: Zaher Sahloul
“The Syrian crisis is now in its fifth year. The country’s health services are under unprecedented strain due to the protracted war, deliberate targeting of health staff and infrastructure by the Syrian regime and Russian forces, the exodus of physicians and nurses, shortages of medical supplies and medications and the disruption of medical education and training.”
Find article here.

Children on Nauru deserve Royal Commission

MJA, 22 August 2016
Author: Nicholas Talley
“Should we, a highly educated profession which knows the overwhelming evidence that detention is causing harm, speak out even more loudly and forcefully and insist on change? I would argue yes. Laws that unnecessarily limit free speech, like the Australian Border Force Act 2015, and secrecy provisions that protect governments, not their citizens, should be removed from the statute books. I would go further; we should lobby for constitutional amendments that better protect all our rights. I welcome the interest that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has expressed in the case of the Nauru children, but they deserve more.”
Find article here.

The Shadow Doctors

The New Yorker, June 27 2016 issue
Author: Ben Taub
“In the past five years, the Syrian government has assassinated, bombed, and tortured to death almost seven hundred medical personnel, according to Physicians for Human Rights, an organization that documents attacks on medical care in war zones. (Non-state actors, including ISIS, have killed twenty-seven.) …Thousands of physicians once worked in Aleppo, formerly Syria’s most populous city, but the assault has resulted in an exodus of ninety-five per cent of them to neighboring countries and to Europe. Across Syria, millions of civilians have no access to care for chronic illnesses, and the health ministry routinely prevents U.N. convoys from delivering medicines and surgical supplies to besieged areas. …Despite the onslaught, doctors and international N.G.O.s have forged an elaborate network of underground hospitals throughout Syria.”
Find article here.

Aleppo MSF-supported hospital destroyed in air strikes in Syria

ABC News with Reuters/AFP, online 29 April 2016
“Air strikes have hit a hospital in a rebel-held area of Syria’s Aleppo killing at least 27 people, including three children and the city’s last paediatrician, according to reports from medics and an observatory body.  The al-Quds hospital was supported by international medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), who said the facility was destroyed after being hit by a direct air strike that killed at least three doctors.”
Find article here.

Israel rabbi to paramedics: ‘Leave Palestinians to die’

Aljazeera, 20 April 2016
Author: Jonathan Cook
“There is mounting evidence that Israeli ambulance crews are withholding treatment from Palestinians injured during a wave of attacks over the past six months, according to rights groups. Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, a medical watchdog group, found that wounded Palestinians had been left untreated for as long as two hours. In parallel, says the group, Israeli soldiers regularly deny Palestinian crews in the occupied territories access to injured Palestinians in violation of international agreements.”
Find article here.

Unit 731 and moral repair

J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2015-103177
Authors: Doug Hickey, Scarllet SiJia Li, Celia Morrison, Richard Schulz, Michelle Thiry, Kelly Sorensen
“Unit 731, a biological warfare research organisation that operated under the authority of the Imperial Japanese Army in the 1930s and 1940s, conducted brutal experiments on thousands of unconsenting subjects. Because of the US interest in the data from these experiments, the perpetrators were not prosecuted and the atrocities are still relatively undiscussed. What counts as meaningful moral repair in this case—what should perpetrators and collaborator communities do decades later? We argue for three non-ideal but realistic forms of moral repair…”
Find abstract here.

Scandal as a Sentinel Event — Recognizing Hidden Cost–Quality Trade-offs

N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1001-1003March 17, 2016DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1502629
Author: M. Gregg Bloche, M.D., J.D.
“In 2014, Americans reacted with outrage to reports that personnel at Veterans Health Administration (VA) medical centers had schemed to feign compliance with targeted waiting times for appointments. Whistle-blowers outed miscreants, alleging that clinical delays had caused scores of avoidable deaths. …The prevailing narrative was one of breakdowns of character and culture: dishonesty, callousness, and ineptitude. Several years earlier, a similar scenario played out in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), which had set waiting-time and quality-of-care targets that many facilities struggled to meet. The struggles of one facility, in the county of Staffordshire, became a scandal. …As with the VA scandal, politicians blamed individual perpetrators and one another, and the prevailing narrative highlighted lapses of character and culture.”
Find article here. See also “Beyond the VA Crisis — Becoming a High-Performance Network” (N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1003-1005 March 17, 2016DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1600307).

The forgotten Australian prisoners of war experimented on by the Nazis

ABC Radio National, broadcast 16 March 2016
Presenter: Amanda Smith
“Some of the cruellest, vilest things humans do to each other are done in wartime.  During the Second World War, one of the most shocking things that occurred—in a long list of shocking things—was human medical experimentation in Nazi concentration camps.  Until now, however, it wasn’t known that the Nazis also experimented on Australian POWs.”
Find program here.