Tag: health hazards

Bioethics Blogs

Are We All Flint? by Catherine Fennell

[This article originally appeared in Limn, Issue No. 7, “Public Infrastructures / Infrastructural Publics”.]

For the past several decades, Flint, Michigan, has staggered under waves of deindustrialization, disinvestment, and abandonment that have left the city depopulated, its built environment in shambles, and its remaining residents reeling from high unemployment and crime rates, a decimated tax base, and dwindling municipal services. While grim, Flint’s decline is by no means unique in a region whose cities have become synonymous with the booms and busts of twentieth century American manufacturing. Nor is the degree of its decay unusual. Aficionados of ruin will find crumbling infrastructures arresting and aplenty in most any “Rust Belt” city. What is singular, however, is the attention that Flint’s contaminated water has received in recent months, an attention that is now amplifying ongoing debates concerning America’s ailing and aging infrastructures. That amplification is especially apparent in variations of a phrase that has recently echoed through local, regional, and national media and activist circles: “We are all Flint.”

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With every disclosed email, alleged wrongdoing, and denial of responsibility, the course of Flint’s contamination grows as murky and foul as the water that began flowing from its taps in 2014. In April of that year, the city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The switch unfolded amid a climate of intense fiscal austerity in which state-appointed emergency managers pushed Michigan’s most financially beleaguered cities to cut costs. In Flint, part of this push included a proposal to bypass Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department as the city’s water supplier, and to instead source cheaper water through a newly constructed pipeline into Lake Huron.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals May 2015 – Part 1 by Francis Mckay

Hi all, here’s part one of this month’s roundup. Enjoy.

 

American Ethnologist

Ethnography for aging societies: Dignity, cultural genres, and Singapore’s imagined futures
Michael M. J. Fischer

Social theory generated in and about Singapore lies in psychic depths and archive fevers of an immigrant society subjected to accelerated social changes that devalue the lives of those marked by aging. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Singapore, weaving together four kinds of data sets—gerontology psychiatric research and intervention; changing ritual forms; analytically phenomenological, paraethnographic theater and stories; and student video and drama projects—I argue that new literacies, pedagogies, and practices can foster enriched community life in posttraumatic, aging societies. Focusing on meaning and affect, and referencing Derrida on hauntology, archive fever, sur-vie, and grammatology (as syntax of social configurations within which aging occurs, or, sociocultural texts, narratives, and symbols), I build on the ethnographic literatures on aging and explore strong metaphors of monstrous history (taowu), ghosts (hantu), obliviousness brought by prosperity (fat years), and intercultural repetition compulsions of unfilial children (Lear).

Global health partnerships, governance, and sovereign responsibility in western Kenya
Hannah Brown

The delivery of resources to citizens in the global South is increasingly managed through international partnerships. As systems of plural governance, such arrangements are characterized by alignments, accommodations, and conflicts between partners’ respective interests. This article focuses on partnerships between the Kenyan Ministries of Health and organizations funded by PEPFAR (the President’s Fund for AIDS Relief), drawing on fieldwork with Kenyan government health managers. These partnerships were based on a separation between the ability to provide resources and the right to administer them.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Responding to Ebola: Selected Commentaries on Key Ethical Questions

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest and deadliest on record, and the crisis is evolving rapidly. More than 2,200 people have been infected in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria, and more than half have died. The response to the epidemic has raised ethical questions about the fair allocation of scarce resources, the appropriate use of unproven medicines, obligations to health care workers who volunteer for dangerous assignments, and international obligations to invest in adequate public health infrastructures.

Two excellent commentaries this week by Hastings Center Fellows explore these questions, analyze structural problems that are contributing to the present crisis, and offer recommendations for public health planning.

Nancy Kass, writing in Annals of Internal Medicine, addresses three questions: Was it ethical to airlift two infected American health care workers to the United States for treatment? Was it ethical to give them a “highly experimental” drug? And if it was ethical to give them this treatment, should Africans infected with Ebola receive it too?

Kass argues that the airlift was ethical. While mindful of the duty not to abandon patients, she points out that few health care workers would ever volunteer to care for Ebola patients in West Africa, and “traveling to help patients with an illness both highly contagious and usually fatal is what ethics calls “supererogatory”–above and beyond usual norms of good ethical conduct.” (In a recent interview Joanne Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders, said that recruiting health care workers for West Africa is more difficult than for war zones.)

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.