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Hard Questions For Medical Humanitarian Organizations Provoked By Adverse Effects Of Mining Industry

 

Médecins Sans Frontières logo

Médecins Sans Frontières logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 30 August 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

Increasingly humanitarian organizations will find themselves responding to health emergencies provoked by the adverse effects of mining and other extractive industries, setting up a potential clash to do with the core principles and values at the heart of humanitarian medicine, writes Philippe Calain from the humanitarian medical organization, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), in this week’s PLOS Medicine.

“A pragmatic approach of engagement with the corporate sector for the delivery of aid, or an implicit support to mainstream development agendas could compromise the legitimacy of humanitarian medicine,” argues Calain. He continues, “A principled understanding of humanitarian medicine entails selfless moral commitments that are incompatible with the for-profit objectives of corporate industries.”

Drawing on MSF’s experience responding to the “worst lead poisoning epidemic in modern history” resulting from artisanal gold mining in Nigeria’s Zamfara state, Calain explores the pitfalls, difficult alliances, and challenges medical humanitarian organizations must navigate in confronting the dire health consequences resulting from extractive industries, whether informal, illegal, or sanctioned.

He argues that, in developing countries, extractive industries (including ore mineral mining and oil extraction) have far reaching consequences on health through environmental pollution, communicable diseases, violence, destitution, and compromised food security. While humanitarian organisations might be called to intervene in areas occupied by the extractive sector, Calain argues that oil and mineral exploitation reveals a fundamental clash of values between humanitarianism, the for-profit sector, and privatised global philanthropy.

Operating in this relatively new terrain for medical humanitarian organizations – outside the traditional humanitarian response to armed conflict, epidemics, and natural disasters – requires a deeper examination of which types of compromises and alliances are acceptable. Responding to these kinds of emergencies, warns Calain, cannot be reduced to the development of medical and technical expertise alone….

 

 

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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