The H1N1 influenza pandemic: need for solutions to ethical problems

Prateek Bhatia

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2013.079


The rapid spread of the novel influenza virus of H1N1 swine origin led to widespread fear, panic and unrest among the public and healthcare personnel. The pandemic not only tested the world’s health preparedness, but also brought up new ethical issues which need to be addressed as soon as possible. This article highlights these issues and suggests ethical answers to the same. The main areas that require attention are the distribution of scarce resources, prioritisation of antiviral drugs and vaccines, obligations of healthcare workers, and adequate dissemination and proper communication of information related to the pandemic. It is of great importance to plan in advance how to confront these issues in an ethical manner. This is possible only if a comprehensive contingency plan is prepared with the involvement of and in consultation with all the stakeholders concerned.

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