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Medical Peace Work

Health Personnel in Violence Prevention

With the Medical Peace Work project we wish to strengthen a new field in medicine and health sciences that deals with the role and professional responsibility of health workers in violence prevention and sustainable peace building. The project draws on the experiences of Health as a Bridge to Peace (WHO) and Peace through Health (McMaster University), as well as on other relevant concepts and disciplines like Global Health, Violence Prevention, Health & Human Rights, and Medicine & War.

Medical research in recent years has increasingly acknowledged that violence on all levels is a serious health problem; health professionals need to take more responsibility for its prevention (WHO, World Report on Violence and Health, 2002). Curricula, teaching material and training courses in medical peace work are hardly available, and teaching initiatives are sporadic and relatively incoherent. Health institutions and professional organisations have voiced a need for competence development and for a transparent system of formalised qualifications and resources.

The main focus of the MPW project is therefore the teaching of medical peace work both to medical students and doctors. During the project period (Oct. 2005 – Sept. 2007) we will develop web-based teaching material and build up this web site as a resource centre for teaching Medical Peace Work.

Project outcomes will include a multi-media distant learning course and a handbook in MPW.

Need for Theory and Conceptual Framing
There is a long tradition for medical engagement against war, weapons and violence. Since 1863 the International Committee of the Red Cross has been promoting and monitoring the Geneva Conventions to protect non-combatants and to prevent unnecessary suffering. Different medical peace organizations have over the last 100 years advocated for disarmament, demilitarization, social justice and international arbitration. Examples are:

Association médicale internationale contre la guerre (1905)
Internationale Gesellschaft der Ärzte gegen den Krieg (1932)
Physicians for Social Responsibility (since 1961)
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (since 1980)
Physicians for Human Rights (since 1986)
Despite this longstanding activism and preventive health work, marginal research and teaching exist in this field. It seems to be a need, not only for more empirical data, but also for more theory and conceptual framing. The Medical Peace Work project would like to stimulate a discussion about definitions, models, interventions and evidence. We hope herein to unite a health science perspective with a peace science perspective.

We invite you to become an MPW-associate and to take part in this discussion and field development. You can contribute in the discussion forum, or feel free to contact us.

Transnational Co-operation of European Partners
The MPW-partnership is built on an already existing European network of medical peace organizations and teaching institutions that gathered during The Hague Appeal for Peace Conference in 1999 and the IPPNW World Congress in Paris in the year 2000. It is now supplemented with relevant competence in research and teaching, in accreditation and valorisation of medical curricula and vocational training, and in publishing and technical solutions.

It represents a transnational co-operation between medical peace practitioners, peace and health researchers, teaching institutions, valorisation partners and final users of the project’s outcomes.

The partnership has a flat structure with equitable contribution and responsibility according to the partners’ expertise in medical peace work, development of e-learning, and valorisation of medical teaching material. The use of webfora and partner meetings is central to the project coordination, the development of this new field of expertise and the continuous quality control and self-evaluation. All results and credits in relation to the Medical Peace Work project are shared among the project partners. The coordination of the thematic module development and of other work-packages is decentralized and shared by many partners.

The overall management and administration of the project is carried out by the Centre for International Health, University of Tromsø (Norway).

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