Recently, there has been a growing interest in public health and public health ethics. Much of this interest has been tied to efforts to draw up national and international plans to deal with a global pandemic. It is common for these plans to state the importance of drawing upon a well-developed ethics framework and we argue that this framework should reflect the values and insights of feminist relational theory. More specifically, we argue that pandemic planning must be squarely situated in the larger realm of public health and that an ethics framework for public health will be one that recognizes the need to pay particular attention to the vulnerability of subpopulations lacking in social and economic power. We propose an ethics framework for public health that builds on the notions of relational personhood (including relational autonomy and social justice) and relational solidarity. In this way, we aim for a public health ethics that, as appropriate, promotes the public interest and the common good.
The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press. Available online at www.phe.oxfordjournals.org