An ethical analysis of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Coetzee, Tanya (2018-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The recent phenomenon of Ebola Viral Disease’s (EVD) rapid spread and difficulty in containment in the West Africa countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone during 2014 drew the attention of the international community. Various ethical questions were raised as to how the disease spiralled out of control and the reasons for the severity of the outbreak. The study evaluated three main areas of ethical concern: ethical issues relevant to the healthcare workers, the status of the public healthcare systems and the social determinants of health in the affected countries, and the role of the global community and global bioethics. Findings indicated that moving away from the normal day-to-day routine of medical care to disaster situations calls for different standard of practise. Medical ethics codes are currently insufficient to assist healthcare workers with rapid decision-making. The healthcare systems and key health determinants in the affected areas indicated that these regions were woefully unprepared to face the deadly EVD outbreak. The failed public healthcare systems and poor infrastructure and history of political instability in the three regions must be interpreted not just as a political failure, but as an ethical failure. The access to basic household services and healthcare infrastructure in the affected regions in West Africa and in most of Africa is a critical component in ensuring global health justice. The importance of global bioethics on the agenda of governments and organisations is critical to ensure global health.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die onlangse uitbraak van Ebola-virus-siekte (EVS) in die Wes-Afrika-lande van Guinee, Liberië en Sierra Leone gedurende 2014 het aandag getrek vanaf die internasionale gemeenskap. Verskeie etiese vrae oor hoe die siekte buite beheer geraak het en wat die hoofredes vir die erns van die epidemie was, het onstaan. Die studie het drie hoofareas van etiese kwessies in ag geneem: etiese kwessies wat relevant is tot die gesondheidswerkers; die status van die openbare gesondheidsorgstelsels en die sosiale determinante van gesondheid in die geaffekteerde lande; die rol van die internasionale gemeenskap en globale bio-etiek. Bevindinge het aangedui dat die afwyking vanaf die normale daaglikse roetine van mediese sorg na rampsituasies verskillende praktykstandaarde vereis. Mediese etiek-kodes is tans onvoldoende om gesondheidswerkers te help met vinnige besluitneming. Die gesondheidsorgstelsels en belangrike gesondheidsdeterminante in die geaffekteerde gebiede het aangedui dat hierdie gebiede onvoorbereid was om die dodelike EVS-uitbraak effektief te bekamp. Die mislukte openbare gesondheidsorgstelsels en swak infrastruktuur en geskiedenis van politieke onstabiliteit in die drie lande moet nie net as 'n politieke mislukking geïnterpreteer word nie, maar as 'n etiese mislukking. Toegang tot basiese huishoudelike dienste en gesondheidsorginfrastruktuur in die geaffekteerde lande van Wes-Afrika asook meeste ander lande in Afrika is 'n kritieke komponent om wêreldgesondheidsregtigheid te verseker. Dit is krities dat bio-etiek ingesluit word op die agenda van wêreldwye regerings en organisasies om toekomstige uitbrake beter die hoof te bied en so wêreldgesondheid te verseker.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104808
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