HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Saturday, June 18, 2005

More Attention Should Be Paid to Ethics and Infectious Diseases

Michael Selgelid of the University of Sydney has published the paper "Ethics and Infectious Disease" in which he claims that "bioethics suffers from a misdistribution of research resources" and that "the general topic of infectious disease has received relatively little attention from the discipline of bioethics in comparison with things like abortion, euthanasia, genetics, cloning, stem cell research, and so on."  He argues that infectious diseases deserves more attention due to historical and potential future consequences of infectious diseases such as the Black Death, small pox, AIDS, and SARS.  Possible ethical questions having to do with infected person infecting the rest of the population could involve infringing on basic human rights and liberties by surveillance, isolation, and quarantine.   Another ethical consideration is balancing the "utilitarian aim of promoting public health" and the "libertarian aims of protecting privacy and freedom of movement."   He also points out that the poor face, especially in third-world countires, suffer from infectious disease disproportionately.  I appreciate research assistant Lindley Bain's help with this post. [tm]


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