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Law and Ethics of End-of-Life Care in Humanitarian Crises 

Law and Ethics of End-of-Life Care in Humanitarian Crises
Law and Ethics of End-of-Life Care in Humanitarian Crises

Natasha Yacoub

, Lisa Schwartz

, and Kevin Bezanson

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date: 30 March 2020

This chapter explores the legal and ethical foundations for the inclusion of palliative care in humanitarian responses, as well as practical challenges in doing so. Despite overwhelming need, such care is not consistently integrated into domestic and international crisis responses. The first section demonstrates that international human rights and humanitarian law, often reflected in regional and domestic law, may require the provision of palliative care in conflict and natural disaster settings. The second section summarizes key ethical guidance to support the provision of palliative care in these scenarios. The third section explains the challenges identified by humanitarians in delivering end-of-life care. It highlights the trauma experienced by healthcare professionals who identify but are unable to meet the needs of patients who cannot be cured. The chapter concludes with practical recommendations to improve access to palliative care in humanitarian crises.

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