Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Briefing

Global medical aid charities and allegations of sexual misconduct and crime

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 07 June 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2445
  1. Sophie Arie, freelance journalist, London
  1. sophiearie{at}

Will recipients of medical aid in global humanitarian crises have a #MeToo moment, asks Sophie Arie

Has sexual misconduct been alleged?

In February news broke that some of Oxfam’s non-medical staff had allegedly paid local women for sex while delivering humanitarian aid in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Since then, it has become clear that many aid charities, including those providing healthcare, have dealt quietly over many years with allegations of sexual misconduct by their staff, including harassment or abuse.

How common is it?

The global medical aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières has 42 000 staff in over 70 countries. In 2016, it dismissed 10 staff because of sexual harassment or abuse, it said in a statement. In 2017, it dismissed 19 people, with five others receiving lesser sanctions for alleged sexual abuse or harassment. Two cases …

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