Health Care and Ethics in the Developing World


Global health is a major rallying cry for both students and faculty at Dartmouth but in practice ethical dilemmas arise with outreach and research in far away places. As work in this area expands to address the consequences of catastrophes and social disparities in health care delivery, we encounter challenging ethical questions.

An estimated 900 villagers line up for a chance to see a doctor in Serere, Uganda. The first Dartmouth Global Health Conference, on October 17, will address the challenging ethical questions that arise with medical outreach and research in far away places.  (photo by U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)

Who deserves help more? Who should make those decisions? Whose cultural norms should guide decisions about right and wrong? Are there ways of avoiding the pitfalls of paternalism when conducting global health outreach and research? These are some of the key questions that will be addressed at a conference on global health ethics being run by Tim Lahey, associate professor of medicine at Dartmouth Medical School.

Lahey and his colleagues have organized the conference to bring global health groups at Dartmouth together so that participating students and faculty can tackle these challenging questions head on. The first Dartmouth Global Health Ethics Conference will be held on Monday, October 17, in auditorium E/F at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Internationally prominent speakers from outside and inside Dartmouth will help guide attendees through this exercise. The speakers will include Solomon Benatar (University of Cape Town), Nancy Kass (Johns Hopkins), Mark Barnes (Harvard), Jaime Bayona (Dartmouth College), and John Butterly (Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center).

For more information and to register online, visit the conference website. Student registration is free, and scholarships are available for nurses.

Conference sponsors include the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Bioethics Committee, the Dartmouth College Ethics Institute, the Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program, the John Sloane Dickey Center for International Understanding, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College, and the Grimshaw-Godeowitz fund of the Department of Medicine.

Joseph Blumberg