COVID-19: opportunities for public health ethics?

Public health ethics is the discipline that ensures that public health professionals and policy makers explain what they do, and why. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ethical deliberations often did not feature explicitly in public health decisions, thus reducing transparency and consistency in decision-making processes, and resulting in loss of trust by the general public. A public health ethics framework based on principles would add to transparency and consistency in public health decision-making.

The enigma of health: cultural, health political, and philosophical aspects

Ethics, at its core, relates to our practices and their moral justification. The practice of medicine, by definition, takes place in a fundamentally ethical context. In ordinary circumstances the goals to which physicians direct their medical practices are held tacitly, but sometimes fresh examination of these is occasioned. This conceptual article considers a range of approaches that have been taken to the notion of health, ancient and modern, historical and contemporary, beginning with the socio-cultural, then the health political, and finally the medical philosophical.

Medical humanities: some uses and problems

The arts and humanities were allowed into the British medical curriculum in 1993 when the General Medical Council re-structured it in a paper entitled ‘Tomorrow’s Doctors’. Since then many medical schools have developed humanities modules and the broad term ‘medical humanities’ refers to these. They can contribute to medical education in at least three ways: as a supplement to what is already in the curriculum, especially for ethics and communication; as an outside critique of medical practice; and to personal and professional development.

Feeding decisions in advanced dementia

When close to death, people stop eating. In neurodegenerative conditions swallowing may become unsafe, and artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) may be proposed or requested. But nutrition is surrounded by other considerations: opportunity, help, environment, enjoyment, mood, social being and symbolic importance. Poor care or deliberate attempts to end life might also result in poor nutrition and dehydration.