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Establishing moral bearings: ethics and expatriate health care professionals in humanitarian work
Disasters (2011)
  • Matthew R Hunt, University of Montreal

Expatriate health care professionals frequently participate in the international response to natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies. This field of clinical practice presents important clinical, logistical and ethical challenges for clinicians. In this paper I consider the ethics of health care practice in humanitarian contexts. I begin by examining features that contribute to forming the moral landscape of humanitarian work. I then identify and discuss normative guidelines and ethics approaches that are relevant for this work. These tools and frameworks provide important ethics resources for clinical practice in humanitarian settings. Finally, I elaborate a set of questions that can help health care professionals as they analyze ethical issues that they experience in the field. The proposed process can assist clinicians as they seek to establish their moral bearings in situations of ethical complexity and uncertainty. Identifying and developing ethics resources and vocabulary for clinical practice in humanitarian work will help health care professionals provide ethically sound care to patients and communities.

  • decision-making,
  • ethics,
  • health care professionals,
  • humanitarian emergencies,
  • natural disasters,
  • non-governmental organizations.
Publication Date
July, 2011
Citation Information
Matthew R Hunt. "Establishing moral bearings: ethics and expatriate health care professionals in humanitarian work" Disasters Vol. 35 Iss. 3 (2011)
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