Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


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 (which ran until April 2016) provides an analysis of the key ethical and regulatory challenges for early warning sensing systems for influenza. The project informs decisionmaking about the regulation and future development of the technologies produced by the i-sense project. Amongst the outputs of the project are 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).

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 investigated 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. 

At the time, debate on this topic had tended to polarise opinion, with well-entrenched positions in the policy world. However, there wasthe opportunity for conceptual and policy analysis to bring out the complexity of the problem while simultaneously offering means to alleviate it. The aim of the project was 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.  In collaboration with other researchers, we held an international two-day conference in June 2015: ‘Fulfilling Rights, Realising Goals and Meeting Duties in the drive towards Universal Health Coverage.’  The participants produced a consensus statement which was submitted for publication in autumn 2015.