Planning and Response to the Influenza a (H1N1) Pandemic: Ethics, Equity and Justice
Gupta, Anil Kumar
Indian journal of medical ethics 2011 Oct-Dec; 8(4): 237-40
This paper aims to highlight three ethical considerations related to influenza pandemic planning and response: ethical allocation of scarce resources; obligations and duties of healthcare workers to treat patients, and the balance between conflicting individual and community interests. Among these, perhaps the most challenging question facing bioethics is how to allocate scarce, life-saving resources given the devastating social and economic ramifications of a pandemic. In such situations, the identification of clear overall goals for pandemic planning is essential in making difficult choices. The dilemma between the duty to save patients and the right to protect the healthcare personnel's own life and health is a key issue. During the course of a pandemic, civil liberties may also be threatened, requiring limits on individual freedom to protect individuals as well as entire communities. Yet, individual liberty should be restricted with great care, and only when alternative approaches are not effective. Pandemic influenza planning and response should be a cooperative and shared responsibility that balances community and individual interests.
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