Ethics of infectious disease control

Michael John Selgelid

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEncyclopaedia / Dictionary EntryOther

2 Citations (Scopus)


Ethical issues in infectious disease control sometimes arise when public health measures required to maximally promote public health conflict with basic human rights and liberties. While neither the promotion of the greater good in the way of public health nor the protection of individuals should always be given absolute priority over the other, trade-offs must be made between the two. These issues are explored through examination of controversy surrounding informed consent, mandatory vaccination and treatment, and quarantine. Infectious diseases also raise issues of social justice insofar as they disproportionately affect the poor. Public health crises involving infectious diseases, finally, may sometimes raise distinctive, context-specific issues. Much debate about pandemic influenza has focused on questions about health workers' duty to treat potentially contagious patients and the just allocation of scarce resources; the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa raised new questions about the use and study of unregistered interventions; and the Zika crisis in South America has highlighted the ethical importance of reproductive liberty.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Public Health
EditorsStella R. Quah, William Cockerham
Place of PublicationOxford UK
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780128037089
ISBN (Print)9780128036785
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Allocation of resources
  • Duty to treat
  • Ebola
  • Ethics
  • Freedom
  • Human experimentation
  • Human rights
  • Informed consent
  • Liberty
  • Mandatory treatment
  • Mandatory vaccination
  • Quarantine
  • Tuberculosis
  • Zika

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