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Human rights

A medical camp in a conflict zone

We live in an unstable world. Syria, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, The Democratic Republic of the Congo. These names have become synonymous with atrocity. And in all these locations, doctors and other health professionals struggle to deliver care to the injured and the sick. They can come under tremendous pressure. They can be targeted by brutal regimes, or coerced into abusive behaviour. Isolated and under stress they can lose their moral compass and become complicit in the violation of patient rights.

Our work in health and human rights seeks to uphold fundamental human rights in health practice. It looks toward health professionals and health systems to protect medical neutrality - the core principle that health professionals must be able to treat all people on the basis of need. It also looks to patients - ensuring as far as possible that medical practice respects the needs and rights of the injured and sick.

In pursuit of these aims we write and lobby governments, we form allies with global medical organisations committed to upholding human rights, we speak out whenever and wherever we can. And although human rights abuses are often thought of being the provenance of distant inhuman regimes, we are also vigilant domestically.

We have a watching brief on detention settings in the UK. The health needs of children and young people in the criminal justice system; patients subject to compulsory powers and detained migrants are areas of ongoing concern. Even democratically elected states can lose sight of core human interests.

View more information on our work on human rights