Intended for healthcare professionals


Quiet diplomacy is not enough

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 12 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:409
  1. Paul Haviland (, co-ordinator
  1. Bulgarian Medics Solidarity Project

    Here is a familiar story: a lethal infection is discovered to have spread among hospital patients. The culprits are quickly identified as substandard hygiene and poor training. On a more sinister note, there is a suspicion in some quarters that foreign staff, already present in large numbers in the country's health service, are somehow to blame.

    So far, so familiar: just weeks ago parts of the British media were treating the “superbug” crisis in precisely those terms.

    Now imagine that a handful of foreign hospital workers are rounded up, imprisoned, and charged with deliberately spreading the infection, a charge to which they confess under torture. After five and a half years in judicial limbo, they are found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad. Friends and relatives of those who died pour on to the streets to welcome the verdicts with whoops of joy.

    Those who should be putting pressure on Libya are acting with exaggerated caution

    Implausible? Think again. On 6 May this year, in the Libyan …

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