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Duty of Care: Protecting the Change-makers

Article | June 2019

Duty of Care: Protecting the Change-makers

When it comes to changing the world, humanitarian workers are on the front lines. Many work for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and are deployed globally to help people in need. Their missions cover a wide range of issues1 but their goals are similar: making positive change happen.

Perhaps you’ve thought about the people that do this type of work while watching the news or listening to a podcast. What happens if they get sick in a remote area? How do they manage feelings of isolation? Who do they call if they need help?

The answer is known as Duty of Care. NGOs employ nearly 19 million paid workers and countless volunteers2, and Duty of Care ensures they provide physical, mental, and pharmacy services as well as safety, security, and support wherever people are serving–including in remote and sometimes dangerous parts of the world.

Unfortunately, unsafe situations abroad are not uncommon. In 2017 alone, 158 major incidents of violence against humanitarian operations occurred in 22 countries, affecting 313 aid workers3.

According to Arjan Toor, Cigna's CEO for international organizations and Africa, many people are willing to sacrifice to do this type of work, to travel and help others, but what they are not prepared to sacrifice is safety and security.

Navigating care and services for NGO employees is complex, but critically important. Cigna provides NGOs with access to international doctors through telehealth, counseling, medical evacuation services, and access to medications for NGO staff and families.

In addition, Cigna hosts Duty of Care workshops around the world to convene stakeholders, share knowledge, and find solutions for a range of issues that have a profound impact on NGOs, the health and well-being of humanitarian workers, and the people they serve.

“In a world of increasing uncertainty, it is imperative that NGO leaders and other stakeholders deepen our collective understanding of current and emerging issues,” said Toor. “Doing so will help ensure the important work of driving positive change continues.”

The first Duty of Care workshop took place in Antwerp (Belgium) in 2017, and workshops in London, Nairobi (Kenya), and Washington, D.C. have followed.

To learn more, read Cigna’s Duty of Care white paper.

Swiss paramedics team helps an injured young female laying on a stretcher

1 What is an NGO? What role does it play in civil society?, GrantSpace by Candid, https://grantspace.org/resources/knowledge-base/ngo-definition-and-role/, Accessed June 3, 2019

2 The Rise and Rise of NGOs, Public Service International, https://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/176-general/31937, Accessed June 3, 2019

3 Aid Worker Security Report 2018, https://aidworkersecurity.org/sites/default/files/AWSR%20Figures%202018.pdf, Accessed June 3, 2019