Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics

The Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics (FACE) exists to bring compassion and ethics to the center of global health work. We are committed to helping practitioners cultivate, harness, and channel compassionate and ethical action in day-to-day decision-making. We do this through convening and connecting, through consultation and education, and through research and pioneering our own initiatives.

Who We Are

At FACE, we’re driven by the belief that the health of communities—both globally and locally—depends on ethical and compassionate care. We aim to passionately promote the core values that unite us in global health: social justice, health equity, and respect for all persons, and we are reimagining global health practice by bringing compassion and ethics to the center of our work.

As global health practitioners, we acknowledge that our actions can have unintentional – sometimes harmful – consequences. As such, our work requires constant introspection and a deep commitment to compassion and ethics. Compassion inspires and sustains us—it is the animating force needed to recognize that the health and well-being of the ‘distant stranger’ is inextricably linked to our own. Ethics compels us to closely examine our assumptions, motivations, practices, relationships, and impact. This applies not only to the communities we work with, but also to the many people we work alongside.

Services We Offer

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.

Global health programs have an obligation not only to provide benefits to populations, but also to minimize harm to individuals. For more than 30 years, the goal of controlling and eliminating onchocerciasis (river blindness) has been threatened by medical complications in people who are infected with high levels of a related parasite, Loa loa (African Eyeworm), when treated with medicine for onchocerciasis. FACE recently collaborated with the World Health Organization and other stakeholders to help address the technical and ethical dimensions of this challenge.

The theme of compassion and global health was the subject of a meeting that we convened at The Carter Center to explore the role of compassion in their lives and work of global health leaders. From this meeting, award-winning film producer Richard Stanley created a 30-minute documentary on compassion in global health. For a more in-depth look at compassion and global health, watch the documentary here.

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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. 

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