Ethics tools for decision-makers: Responding to public health threats

Policy Briefing

Published 17/05/2022

Ethics tools first page

Drawing on our in-depth work on public health ethics, we have published ethics tools to help decision-makers develop a proportionate response to public health threats.

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  • The state has responsibilities to enable people to live healthy lives and reduce health inequalities.
  • There are no easy answers, but responses to public health threats can be guided by the values of reducing suffering, treating people with respect, and fairness.
  • Options for public health interventions range from doing nothing to removing choice altogether.
  • Decision makers should aim for a proportionate response that takes into account the nature and degree of the harm posed, the certainty of the evidence, the intrusiveness of the intervention, and the views of those affected.
  • The application of each intervention is likely to generate further ethical questions and decision makers need to be alert to the need for transparency and accountability in decision making processes.

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