Swine Flu, er H1N1, Brings Out Ethical Dilemmas that Otherwise Lie Dormant

When a real or potential public health crisis such as the recent swine flu/Mexican flu/H1N1 pandemic hits, it brings to the fore challenging public and private ethical dilemmas that would normally lie fallow. For example, how can the media provide as much information to the public as it can about a pandemic, without going overboard and fomenting panic among the citizenry? By what name shall a pandemic be called, when "swine flu", though perhaps not the most accurate of terms and detrimental to the pork industry, is the label that "stuck" first and most resonates with the public? What is the individual to do when he or she may have contracted a contagious disease and needs medical attention, but hesitates to go to the doctor's office out of fear of infecting others?

These are questions raised and considered recently by Ethics Newsline, the regular newsletter of the Institute for Global Ethics and its president/founder, Rushworth Kidder. I've been subscribed to the newsletter for four or five years now, and while the myriad ethical issues that Kidder considers are never resolved, the mere act of considering them reminds us that just because life doesn't always have easy answers, we shouldn't stop asking questions and seeking a higher level of understanding.

--PWT

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