SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Sheather, Julian, Apunyo, Ronald, DuBois, Marc, Khondaker, Ruma, Noman, Abdullahal, Sadique, Sohana and McGowan, Catherine R (2022) 'Ethical guidance or epistemological injustice? The quality and usefulness of ethical guidance for humanitarian workers and agencies.' BMJ Global Health, 7 (3). 007707.

[img]
Preview
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 (CC BY-NC 4.0).

Download (301kB) | Preview

Abstract

This paper explores the quality and usefulness of ethical guidance for humanitarian aid workers and their agencies. We focus specifically on public health emergencies, such as COVID-19. The authors undertook a literature review and gathered empirical data through semi-structured focus group discussions amongst front-line workers from health clinics in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh and in the Abyei Special Administrative Area, South Sudan. The purpose of the project was to identify how front-line workers respond to ethical challenges, including any informal or local decision-making processes, support networks, or habits of response.The research findings highlighted a dissonance between ethical guidance and the experiences of front-line humanitarian health workers. They suggest the possibility: (1) that few problems confronting front-line workers are conceived, described, or resolved as ethical problems; and (2) of significant dissonance between available, allegedly practically oriented guidance (often produced by academics in North America and Europe), and the immediate issues confronting front-line workers. The literature review and focus group data suggest a real possibility that there is, at best, a significant epistemic gulf between those who produce ethical guidelines and those engaged in real-time problem solving at the point of contact with people. At worst they suggest a form of epistemic control-an imposition of cognitive shapes that shoehorn the round peg of theoretical preoccupations and the disciplinary boundaries of western academies into the square hole of front-line humanitarian practice. [Abstract copyright: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.]

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Public Health, COVID-19, Health Personnel, Humans, Altruism, public health, Morals
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Development Studies
ISSN: 20597908
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2021-007707
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2022 14:49
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/36973
Funders: Other

Altmetric Data

Statistics

Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
3Downloads
6 month trend
13Hits
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item