Ethical issuesArchived

WHO meeting report on the ethical governance in pandemic influenza preparedness


In June 2007, the WHO-EURO region hosted the eleventh in a series of ‘future fora’ meetings with the overall aim of stimulating debate among high-level policy makers on emerging public health issues.

Ethical governance is an important element in pandemic planning, and draws on two primary drivers. The first is the maximizing the use of limited resources, and the second related driver is prioritisation strategies for those resources that are available. Other considerations include obligations to health care workers who put themselves at risk of infection through their work and other key workers.

The meeting report gives a useful summary of the approaches taken to ethical planning for pandemic in several European countries, including 11 EU and EEA Member States. The document also presents as case studies the provisions for ethical decisions in influenza pandemic planning and response in the UK, Switzerland and Norway, and the National decision-making structures on pandemic influenza planning and response in Belgium.

The document also summarises discussion on possible mechanisms to endorse ethical principles through public involvement.

ECDC comment:

This is a useful addition to the more formal global guidance on ethical planning for a pandemic. It is of particular interest as the majority of the detailed examples of policies, decision-making mechanisms and case studies presented are predominantly from the EU/EEA. Read the document.

Ethics of pandemics - France

A specialist centre in France, the Espace éthique de l'Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris has published two issues of a new journal on influenza pandemic ethics. The first issue is available in English as well as French. See further information.

Ethical planning in the health care sector - UK

The United Kingdom has undertaken a project on how to respond to the ethical issues that will inevitably rise in the health care sector in a pandemic. Such as how who should receive intensive care when demand exceeds supply and who should have priority when the first specific pandemic vaccines become available. See further information.