Issues of ethics in medical missions

by Nicholas Comninellis MD MPH

"Unprecedented numbers of health care professionals are volunteering their services in poorer nations. But their altruistic motives are often quickly tempered by the reality of novel and daunting questions connected with very limited resources, and further complicated by unfamiliar cultural context. For example:
  • Is it acceptable to diagnose a person's hypertension, but be able to only supply 30 days of therapeutic medication and provide no follow up care?
  • Is it ethical to prevent malaria among children by providing bed nets, but not to provide them adequate nutrition?
  • Is it justifiable to treat an HIV positive mother to prevent transmission of HIV to her newborn child, but then not provide continued HIV treatment to the mother, realizing that she will likely die and leave that newborn orphaned?
  • Is it ethical to allow medical or nursing students to care for people in poor countries without the benefit of supervision they would receive when caring for patients in their home nations?"
See also the article by Nancy Crigger ,PhD