"International Crime" Posted by: Dale Franks
on Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The Lancet has long been one of the world's most respectable medical journals. Although, having said that, a certain trend towards a regrettable political correctness in recent years has taken some of the bloom off the rose.
That image is further tarnished by this article [registration required]. The authors are what the New York Timesrefers to as "a team of international disease experts". They should, perhaps, stick to treatment of disease, and not delve into politics if this is any indication of their views.
They are terribly upset that so many doctors are being recruited from Third World countries. Not, as it happens, because they don't want heathen foreigners practicing medicine in the west. I mean, they do, but not for the reason you might think. No, they're very concerned that the drain of doctors is leading to a health crisis in the Third World.
And they've come up with an idea for stopping it.
Although the active recruitment of health workers from developing countries may lack the heinous intent of other crimes covered under international law, the resulting dilapidation of health infrastructure contributes to a measurable and foreseeable public-health crisis. There is now substantial evidence of state and organisational involvement in active recruitment of health workers from developing to developed nations.
There is no doubt that this situation is a very important violation of the human rights of people in Africa. In recent years, international law has developed the notion of international crime to strengthen the accountability of individuals for serious violations. One indication of the gravity of acts and that they deserve treatment as international crimes that has been developed by the International Criminal Court is that they create social alarm. Active recruitment of health workers from African countries is a systematic and widespread problem throughout Africa and a cause of social alarm: the practice should, therefore, be viewed as an international crime.
Doctors, you see, have an apparent obligation to the local community which can coerce their services. Recruiting a doctor from, say, Pakistan, therefore, is a violation of the civil rights of the Pakistani citizenry. Doctors, apparently, give up their rights when they take the Hippocratic Oath, apparently. Instead, they create a 'right" on the part of the local community to demand their services, and restrict their movement out of the country. And it's a "crime" to actively recruit those doctors because it causes "social alarm". And, of course, we must avoid "social alarm", by all means.
I have an alternate proposal, which is to tell the International Criminal Court to go screw.
Ah yes, the old "health care is a human right". A right that can only be implemented by removing an individual’s rights and superseding it with the group’s rights. All individual rights must take a back seat to the commom good.