Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics

The field of global health is deeply rooted in the values of social justice, solidarity, compassion, and respect for all persons. In keeping with this radically inclusive vision, The Task Force for Global Health established a Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics (FACE). Through convening, consultations, research, and education, FACE strives to ensure that our work reflects our core values. Unless these values are understood, explored, and brought to bear in our day-to-day decisions and actions, they lack the power to guide and inspire us. FACE encourages us to think critically and engage deeply with the complex ethical issues inherent in global health work.

Why "FACE?"

Dr. Bill Foege, co-founder of The Task Force, emphasized the importance of “seeing the faces” of people whose health we are working to improve. When operating at the global level, across organizational networks and over vast distances, it is too easy to see only “numbers.” FACE seeks to address this by refocusing our attention on the ethical and compassionate dimensions of global health, revealing the people behind health statistics and renewing our commitment to compassionate engagement.

Key Work Areas

Why Compassion?

We believe that compassion lies at the heart of global health ethics – and of global health itself. There are some who believe that global health decisions should be devoid of compassion, driven only by metrics of disease and return on investment. We believe otherwise. The problem is not that compassion distorts rational decision-making, but rather that the circle of our compassion is typically too small. Compassion allows us to recognize the “distant stranger” as connected to us and reinforces our commitment to social justice.

Abhay Bang, a pioneering physician and researcher, reminds us that, “global health decisions without compassion become bureaucratic, they become impersonal, they become insensitive.” It is crucial that those of us who work in global health cultivate compassion, allow it to infuse our work, and understand how it influences ethical decision-making. Watch to learn more.

Recent News

Help make Global Health Programs More Ethical and Compassionate”

Upcoming Events

  • Epidemiology of Compassion and Love Meeting. Dates and Details: Coming Soon!

Our Director

Screen Shot 2019-05-01 at 4.47.32 PM

David Addiss

Director, Focus Area on Compassion and Ethics


Contact Us

If you have questions or would like to learn more about our work, please email us at

Header photo caption: In Nicaragua, community health workers make house calls in their local community to ensure that all members of the community have access to immunizations, especially flu shots. 

Scroll to Top