Posted by: yourhealthradio | December 23, 2014

Re-Air: Life at Guantanamo: The Unspoken Truth with George Annas


Professor George Annas Chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights of Boston University School of Public HealthSpecial guest host, Dr. Amir Barzin, Resident Physician at UNC Family Medicine, will join Cristy to talk with Chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights of Boston University School of Public Health, Professor George Annas about Life at Guantanamo: the Unspoken Truth.

Please tune in! This show will re-air:

• Saturday, December 27th at 9am
• Sunday, December 28th at 9am and 5pm
• Monday, December 29th at 6pm and 10pm

WBNE 103.7 FM
• Saturday, December 27th at 3pm

KKAG Retro Radio 88.7FM
• Sunday, December 28th at 7am

Listen to the show!

Additional Commentary: Why should a physician in the US care about forced-feeding of Guantanamo detainees?
Since 2002, the United States has maintained a military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for detention of persons captured during the “War on Terror”, primarily from Afghanistan and Iraq.  Many have been released without charges and a small number have been charged with high-level crimes, including orchestrating the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Of the remaining 166 detainees, approximately 100 have engaged in a hunger strike during 2013.  To prevent them from dying, the US military has required its physicians at Guantanamo to forcibly insert nasogastric tubes and provide nutritional supplements to hunger-striking prisoners.  Prisoners who do not comply are restrained in special feeding chairs and strapped in until their food is digested, to prevent them from self-induced vomiting.

The World Medical Association and the American Medical Association have both declared that forcibly feeding hunger striking prisoners is unethical.  But why should an American physician care about what happens in Guantanamo?

The simple reason is that physician participation in human rights violations anywhere degrades our profession everywhere.  None of my patients are directly threatened by physicians who act unethically in some other state.  But state medical boards across the United States hold physicians to high ethical standards to ensure public trust in all physicians.  Permitting US physicians to act unethically anywhere undermines trust in physicians and strikes at the core obligation of physicians to act in their patients’ best interests.

The physicians at Guantanamo are not, however, acting on their own accord but are caught in a difficult dual loyalty conflict: they are being ordered by their supervisors to commit acts that are inconsistent with the ethics of their medical profession.  We should support those military physicians at Guantanamo who refuse to carry out orders that violate medical ethics and encourage our elected representatives to force the termination of the abusive practices being done in our name.

Jeffrey Sonis, MD, MPH
Associate Professor, Department of Social Medicine
Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine
University of North Carolina


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