Ethics – mental health in war and disaster

Ethics – mental health in war and disaster

American physicians and dual loyalty obligations in the “war on terror”
Jerome Amir Singh 2003
If U.S. physicians are faced with a conflict of interest between following national policies or international principles of humanitarian law and medical ethics, they should opt to adhere to the latter when treating war detainees. It is important for the U.S. medical community to speak out against possible detainee abuse by the U.S. government.

Doubtful prisoner-of-war status 
Yasmin Naqvi, 2002
The Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War regards to principles a prisoner of war cannot be prosecuted and punished for the mere fact of having taken part in hostilities, and that prisoners of war must be given humane treatment from the time they fall into the power of the enemy until their final release and repatriation. If a person is not given combatant status, he may be tried for having committed a belligerent act. Where this criminal offence may be punished by capital punishment under the domestic jurisdiction, the lack of prisoner-of-war status may be a matter of life or death.

Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror 
Institute on Medicine as a Profession 2013
The report is based on two years of review of records in the public domain by a 19-member task force. The report details how DoD and CIA policies institutionalized a variety of interventions by military and intelligence agency doctors and psychologists that breach ethical standards to promote well-being and avoid harm.

In case of disaster – catastrophes, war, conflict etc – is has always been somewhat difficult to define ethic principles in providing aid, and to ensure that these principles are followed. Just basic questions (as: whom should you help first in case of disaster? And who makes the “ethical” decisions?) can be very difficult to decide.

Disaster Management Ethics
Disaster Management Training Programme DMTP, Dep. Humanitarian Affairs/UN

The Disaster Management Ethics module (65 p.) “addresses some of the ethical issues and dilemmas faced by the humanitarian assistance community as it seeks to respond to human need in the context of natural and human-caused disasters. The format simulates a discussion which aims to foster conversation and interaction. It brings together the voices of fifteen practitioners and scholars to discuss five ethical issues in humanitarian assistance”. It works as a guideline, with case-studies, and questions to answer.

Disaster Psychiatry Handbook
APA, nov 2004

The American Psychiatric Association has released this handbook (56 p.), concerning psychiatric dimensions of disaster. Especially chapter 5 – mediolegal and ethical issues in disaster psychiatry – discusses the ethic challenges in disaster situations.

World Medical Association Statement on Medical Ethics in the Event of Disasters
WMA, oct 2006

The WMA states here the medical ethics to be concerned in handling disasters and victims.