Research podcast on ethical crossroads in a pandemic

2020-04-07

The corona pandemic brings a lot of ethical issues to the fore. For example about priorities in the health care system, or limiting individual's rights to protect those that are vulnerable. Episode 47 of Uppsala University’s' "Forskarpodden" talks about public health ethics with CRB's Anna T. Höglund and Jessica Nihlén Fahlquist (in Swedish).

Listen to episode 47: Etiska vägval i en pandemi

Anna T. Höglund is associate professor at Uppsala University’s Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics. She does research on ethical priorities in healthcare. Such priorities are part of everyday life in the healthcare system. Now, in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, Socialstyrelsen (the National Board of Health and Welfare) has developed new ethical priorities that can be used if there is limited space in intensive care units.  

“It's mentioned in the guidelines how these decisions are difficult for health care professionals to make and that there is a risk of moral distress when having to make these tough calls. In these cases, debriefing, ethics discussions or some kind of follow-up,” says Anna T. Höglund.

Jessica Nihlén Fahlquist is also associate professor at the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics at Uppsala University. Her research focuses on ethical perspectives on risk communication and public health ethics. So far, she thinks the risk communication during the corona pandemic has been successful because it includes the ethical aspects.

“Public health is very much a trade-off between the collective health and the individuals' rights and values. You have keep a balance with people’s right to choose for themselves, to go to the Alps, go outside, go shopping even if you are in your 70s, or whatever it might be. On the one hand, you have people’s right to choose, and on the other you have the most vulnerable individuals’ right not to be harmed,” says Jessica Nihlén Fahlquist.

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