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Ethics in Public Health

Lawrence Gostin,J.D., LL.D (Hon.), Professor and Director, Center for Law and the Public's Health, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities

Program Description:
Public health professionals have to deal with many dilemmas due to their varied, and sometimes conflicting, roles as government officials, health professionals, and advocates for human health and justice. Lawrence Gastin discusses the challenges and dilemmas faced by public health professionals in two realms: public health and ethics.
Ethics in public health is concerned not so much with the character of professionals as with the ethical dimensions of the public health enterprise itself. Here, we think about decision making in creating and implementing public health policy. This kind of “applied” ethics is situation or case oriented, seeking to understand morally appropriate decisions in concrete cases. It requires thought about the potential conflicts between civil liberties and property rights on the one hand and prevention and emergency preparedness on the other.

As a result of this program, participants will be able to:

  • describe at least two ethical challenges faced by public health professionals in their varied roles as government officials, health professionals, and advocates for human health and justice.

Satellite broadcast originally aired November 21, 2003.

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