Health Law And Ethics Essay

Health Law And Ethics Essay-88
How should policy-makers respond to the public’s lack of scientific understanding of risk?

How should policy-makers respond to the public’s lack of scientific understanding of risk?

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This idea is critical because the political community does not have a clear sense of the concept of public health apart from the discourse around health care reform.

Efforts to assure access to high-quality health care are certainly an important part of improving the public’s health, but they play a relatively minor role compared to broader efforts to assure equitable access to healthy living conditions. Society faces threats from emerging and resurgent infectious diseases such as Zika virus, declining vaccination rates, antimicrobial resistance, and the threat of bioterrorism (for example, from anthrax and smallpox).

Even those who advocate for the minimal use of state powers endorse infectious disease control measures that limit liberty (e.g., mandatory vaccination, physical examination, treatment, isolation of the infected and quarantine of the exposed), at least in high-risk circumstances such as an outbreak of Ebola virus.

The “harm principle” in bioethics holds that competent adults should have freedom of action unless they pose a risk to others.

At the same time, public health law and ethics are evolving to address the mounting burdens of noncommunicable disease such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease, injuries or deaths (for example, related to drug overdose, guns, and motor vehicles), and the social determinants of health (for example, the impact of household income, community resources, and structural racism on population health).

Efforts to address these burdens more broadly prompt political opposition from people who would prefer a narrower scope for public health law.

For example, privacy and antidiscrimination protections for individuals with stigmatized conditions may encourage them to seek testing, counseling, and treatment.

When public health measures are designed to protect civil rights and liberties they are more likely to benefit from the earned trust and cooperation of the community and, in particular, persons at risk.

Paternalism is the intentional interference with a person’s freedom of action exclusively—or primarily—to protect his or her own health, safety, welfare, or happiness.

Longstanding regulation of behavior that poses a risk to one’s self includes mandatory motorcycle helmet and seat belt laws, gambling prohibitions, and criminalization of recreational drugs.


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