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.

AMA President Brian Owler lashes Department of Immigration over health services to asylum seekers

SMH, 21 Fenruary 2016
Author: Deborah Snow
“Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler has savaged the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for what he says has been its intimidation of doctors who speak out about the plight of asylum seekers.”
Find article here.

Baby Asha decision sets a risky precedent

SMH, 21 February 2016
Author: Steve Stankevicius
“Though the public’s intentions have been noble, the precedent that has been set is a concern. Regardless of the questionable ethics of Australia’s immigration laws and detention centres, one must carefully consider the consequences of allowing a family to stay after they have found fleeting refuge behind a wall of brave doctors and nurses.”
Find article here.

ICRC and Data Protection

ICRC, online 27 January 2016
“Safeguarding the personal data of individuals, particularly in testing conditions, such as armed conflicts and other humanitarian emergencies, is an essential aspect of protecting people’s lives, their physical and mental integrity, and their dignity – which makes it a matter of fundamental importance for the ICRC. It touches all areas of its activity, whether operational or administrative.”
Find statement here.

Healthy migration needs a long-term plan

The Lancet, Volume 387, No. 10016, p312, 23 January 2016
““It occurred to me that no matter where I lived, geography could not save me”, wrote Isabel Wilkerson in The Warmth of Other Suns, recounting stories of black Americans migrating north in the twentieth century. Today, these same words could be used by international migrants who have relocated either by choice or as refugees, many of whom have inadequate access to health care.”
Find editorial here.