Ethics of planning for, and responding to, pandemic influenza in Sub Saharan Africa: qualitative study

Sambala, Evanson Zondani (2014) Ethics of planning for, and responding to, pandemic influenza in Sub Saharan Africa: qualitative study. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

This thesis argues that ethical issues in Ghana and Malawi represent barriers to pandemic influenza management and prevention. The ways in which ethical issues arise and are manifested are poorly understood, in part because there is little knowledge and inadequate Planning for, and Response to, Pandemic Influenza (PRPI). Rather than offering simple answers, this thesis describes how ethical problems emerge in the course of pandemic authorities performing their everyday duties. The central aim is to understand what ethical issues mean to policymakers and how they may be resolved. An extensive review of the experiences of the 1918 influenza pandemic including the epidemiology is examined to illustrate the profound impact of the disease and lessons that can be learnt. The study operates at two distinct but related levels. Firstly there is an investigation of PRPI at a broad level. Secondly, an exploration of the ethical issues that emerges from PRPI within the analytical framework of decision-making models. A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews is used to conduct the study with a “purposive sampling” of forty six policymakers from Malawi (22) and Ghana (24).

Utilizing existing normative ethical theories, but acknowledging theoretical and empirical approaches to public health ethics and bioethics, this thesis provides a contextual public health framework to study broad moral problems in particular situations. The findings of the study reveal that normative claims can successfully influence policy if substantiated with empirical evidence. Ethical problems are highly practical and contextual in nature, occurring differently in the context of particular settings, cultures, values and moral judgments. Policymakers interviewed identified ethical problems in relation to four key areas: the extent and role of resources in PRPI, the nature of public health interventions (PHIs), the extent of the impact of PHIs and the extent and process of decision-making, reasoning and justification. Policymakers resolved ethical problems by simply applying rules, work norms and common sense without moral and flexible principle-driven thinking. Policymakers’ technical knowledge of ethics is inadequate for balancing the hard pressed moral tensions that may arise between the demands of civil liberties and public health. These results underscore the need to update overall goals in pandemic operations, training and education. Most importantly, an ethical framework remains an important part of dealing with ethical problems. A process of developing an ethical framework is proposed, but the key to combating any ethical problem lies in understanding the PRPI strategy.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Dingwall, R.W.J.
Nguyen-Van-Tan, J.S.
Keywords: Pandemic influenza management, Public health ethics, Health planning
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WA Public health
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 14475
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2015 11:52
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2016 13:19
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/14475

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