UCL Health Humanities Centre


Public Health and Global Health Ethics

Our Public Health and Global health Ethics theme examines the nature, justification and limits of duties to protect health - both at a national level, and at a global level. Projects within this theme include health inequalities, the human right to health, the ethics of health promotion, communicable disease ethics, and clinical research as political advocacy. Here are some current highlights.

Building and Maintaining Public Trust in Early Warning Sensing Systems for Influenza

This exploratory project (running until April 2016) will provide an analysis of the key ethical and regulatory challenges for early warning sensing systems for influenza. The project will inform decisionmaking about the regulation and future development of the technologies produced by the i-sense project. Amongst the outputs of the project will be a proposed ethical and regulatory framework for such point-of-care tests in the UK. James Wilson (PI), Benedict Rumbold (researcher),  Rosanna Peeling (CoI), Rachel McKendry (CoI), Ingemar Cox (CoI).

NEW: We are recruiting for focus group participants to discuss the ethical implications of the new technologies. 

Human Right to Health and Priority Setting in Healthcare

This project won a UCL Centre for Humanities Interdisciplinary Research Projects (CHIRP) Early Career Researcher grant. It investigates a growing conflict, arising independently in a number of countries, between a legal recognition of each citizen’s ‘right  to health’ and the need to prioritise certain patient groups over others in the allocation of scarce healthcare resources. 

To date, debate on this topic has tended to polarise opinion, with well-entrenched positions in the policy world. However, there is the opportunity for conceptual and policy analysis to bring out the complexity of this problem while simultaneously offering means to alleviate it. The aim of the project, then, is to articulate the nature of the moral conflict between various rights, goals and duties in the allocation of health care resources, in the hope of thereby enabling a just resolution of the normative demands at play.  Thus far the project has seen the successful submission of a review article surveying existing conceptions of the moral right to health. In collaboration with other researchers, we also held an international two-day conference in June 2015: ‘Fulfilling Rights, Realising Goals and Meeting Duties in the drive towards Universal Health Coverage.’  At present, the participants are working on a consensus statement to be submitted for publication in autumn 2015.  For further information on this project contact Benedict Rumbold