Public Health - ethical issues

image of Public Health - ethical issues

The Nordic Committee on Bioethics organised a conference in Reykjavik in August 2010 to discuss ethical issues relating to public health. The speakers of the conference have contributed to this book, which offers wide multidisciplinary perspectives on themes around Individual Freedom and Public Health, Health Responsibility and Life Style, and Social Equality and Justice.



Vulnerable population groups and priority setting

During the last few decades, there has been a great deal of discussion in academia about finding efficient ways to ration public health care services. In the rationing debate it is often taken for granted that there is a permanent imbalance between supply and demand and that the public health services are always unable to cope with the acceleration in the cost of medical care or with (allegedly) rising public expectations (Nikkinen 2007). The current economic slowdown will only increase the demands for rationing care provided by public funding, with possible consequences for those population groups who have only limited opportunities for trusteeship on their own. Increasingly, the idea of rationing is being replaced by the notion of priority setting: setting priorities is seen as something that is inherently part of a health care system, because rationing is imposed from the outside (by politicians). However, the change in wording should not prevent us from asking the reasons for the increased demands for rationing or for determining whether there are population groups that are more vulnerable to a policy of rationing than others.


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