The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

4208.0: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 2:30 PM

Abstract #70499

Public Health Ethics and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

George Annas, JD, MPH, Health Law Dept., Boston University School of Public Health, 715 Albany St, Boston, MA 02118, 617-6384626,

It is often said that the law defines obligation, what people are required to do in order to remain a part of a society; whereas ethics deals with aspiration, the way individuals should act toward each other. Professional ethics (and codes of ethics) can be useful in setting forth the aspirations of a profession, whether it be law, medicine, or financial accounting. The central problem with public health ethics has always been defining the field of public health-this is because the broader the definition, the more vague (and therefore potentially useless) would be a set of ethical aspirations. One approach to public health ethics is to define the major issues related to population-based interventions designed to improve the health of the public, such as smoking reduction or cessation campaigns, and newborn screening programs. Another is to view public health in a broader, global context, and to see public health as relevant to all of the major determinants of health. In this context, sometimes referred to as a "health and human rights" context, it has been suggested that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is the most appropriate code of ethics for 21st Century public health practitioners. In this presentation I will explore the strengths and weaknesses of public health adopting the UDHR as its core ethical code.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Ethics, Public Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Human Rights and Ethics in Public Health

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA