Ebola: what it tells us about medical ethics

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Good medical ethics needs to look more to the resources of public health ethics and use more societal, population or community values and perspectives, rather than defaulting to the individualistic values that currently dominate discussion. In this paper I argue that we can use the recent response to Ebola as an example of a major failure of the global community in three ways. First, the focus has been on the treatment of individuals rather than seeing that the priority ought to be public health measures. Second, the advisory committee on experimental interventions set up by the WHO has focused on ethical issues related to individuals and their guidance has been unclear. Third, the Ebola issue can be seen as a symptom of a massive failure of the global community to take sufficient notice of global injustice.

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