Ethics in public health: example


Public Health Ethics is not limited to the four principles of bio or medical ethics. It includes nuances of the field of public health such as the aspect of proportionality and trust. To distil further, I would list some of the useful principles of ethics.

  1.   Trust – While communicating with ordinary people it is fundamental to develop a trust between the public and the authorities. Else, there would be a strong possibility of the failure of the project due to confusion and mistrust. For instance, an initial obstacle in dealing with Ebola was not to consider the element of the trust of the public, which resulted in public anger and frustration. Hence, the framework of trust is the foundation for an effective communication strategy in the field of public health.

  2. Proportionality – Public health recommendation should evaluate the burden on each stakeholder. For instances, in the event of an outbreak, closing all school for a year may ease the work and stop transmitting a disease. However, such recommendation is disproportionate for school children. Hence, authorities must look at other alternatives for controlling the disease.

  3. EquityAs name suggests the principle of equity involves an equitable distribution of the resource. For instance, if a local language is different from English and all flyer and brochure delivered in English. Will local people read the information? Perhaps, not and hence, public health professionals should not ignore these small elements from there approach.



   Ethics in general teaching is focused mostly on the four principles however I would recommend that public health professionals should also read more about other ethical frameworks. Perhaps, it would clarify why recommendation succeed  or fail in specific public health scenarios. 

Here I am explaining the four principles of ethics briefly in layman terminology. Although, there is a bundle of theories attached to these principles of ethics, which we will be discussing later. However, this PowerPoint is for a quick look on Principle of Ethics in Public Health.




Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. (2016). Emergency Response Plan for Communicable Disease Incidents of National Significance Retrieved from$File/CDPLAN.pdf