Unpacking the “Oughtness” of Palliative Care in Humanitarian Crises: Moral Logics and What Is at Stake?

In Daniel Messelken & David Winkler (eds.), Health Care in Contexts of Risk, Uncertainty, and Hybridity. Springer. pp. 179-200 (2021)
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Abstract

It is clear that in the eyes of a growing number of humanitarian fieldworkers and decision-makers, palliative care is something humanitarian organizations should strive to provide as they address the needs of populations affected by crises. What remains less clear are the moral justifications underlying the push to do so. This chapter dives beneath surface prescriptions of what “ought to be” the place of palliative care within humanitarian response. It presents and analyses a series of evocative statements made by 24 humanitarian healthcare actors about why, on what bases, and with what caveats, care for the dying deserves more attention within humanitarian healthcare response. Embedded in these statements are sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit ideas about what it means be a human and a humanitarian, and what humans need and deserve. Clarifying the experiences, practical considerations, understandings of care and responsibility, and norms and values underlying these feelings renders these available for more thorough reflection, discussion, and debate.

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Carrie Bernard
University of Toronto

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