New book on public health ethics

22 February 2011

What are the possible conflicts that might arise between individual rights to liberty and privacy, and controlling the spread of a new disease in the interest of public health? How might these be reconciled? Members of the Oxford Martin School address these issues in a new book, Infectious Disease Ethics.

The volume covers a broad range of topics, including the ethical issues associated with pandemic planning, health workers’ rights and duties, vaccination policy, coercion and compensation, opt-out HIV testing, public health surveillance, and bioterrorism. Infectious disease ethics is one of the fastest growing topics in bioethics and public health ethics, and the book offers creative solutions to such possible conflicts by world leading figures in philosophy, bioethics, law, public health and medicine.

The book grew out of a unique symposium hosted by the Oxford Martin School in the summer of 2007 on ‘Interdisciplinary Conference on Ethics and Infectious Disease: Limiting Liberty in Contexts of Contagion’. The event brought together scientists, policy makers and ethicists to discuss what circumstances might induce a moral obligation to limit individual’s liberty for the sake of public health. The book is one of the planned outputs of the conference, designed to increase awareness of infectious disease ethics and facilitate this dialogue between practitioners.