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Having worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide medical care to refugees, Paul Spiegel, MD, knows a lot about the professional and ethical responsibilities of caring for refugee and migrant populations. So he paid particular attention to the wording of a job ad he recently saw in several medical journals. A government contractor working in the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) detention centers was looking to hire a physician “for quite a good sum of money,” Spiegel said. But it was what he read between the lines that vexed him.

“They want this person to be able to follow the objectives and the spirit of the company, and they were implying in some ways that security may be more important than the health [of the migrants], though they didn’t say that,” he explained. It brought up a question that humanitarian healthcare workers have discussed for decades: Do you work in situations where you might be able to make a difference even if the working conditions include serious limitations to what you can do and how—or even how much—you can provide care?

Given recent news, this question is particularly relevant. First, CBP recently confirmed the agency will not administer flu vaccines to migrants held in detention, despite the looming flu season and an outcry from physicians who called the policy “cruel” and “dangerous.” As Bruce Y. Lee wrote for Forbes, “Holding a number of unvaccinated people in a crowded space could be like maintaining an amusement park for flu viruses,” potentially fueling the fire of an epidemic.

…continue reading “Can Any Doctor Ethically Work In A U.S. Immigration Detention Facility?”

See also: “Can Physicians Work in US Immigration Detention Facilities While Upholding Their Hippocratic Oath?”, JAMA

Image: By U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article213411029.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70482193

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