Ebola Ethics (Garrett, 2014)
In March 2014, Ebola first emerged as a major threat within West Africa. It has mortality rate of up to 90% and often infects different areas of the body simultaneously. This causes the liver and kidneys to become ineffective at disposing of waste. Once this happens, is the point the individual will begin to experience a loss of bodily fluids and internal / external bleeding. (Garrett, 2014)
The incubation period is from two day to three weeks. During this time, those who are infected will experience a number of symptoms such as: fever, urinary problems, vomiting, headaches, sore throat and a lack of coordination. Anyone who is nearby these individuals, are increasing the chances of becoming exposed through bodily fluids (i.e. seaman, saliva, urine, blood, breast milk and coming in contact with the substances which are spilled). The result is that the disease has quickly spread to different parts of the world and it is impacting healthcare workers who are assisting these patients. (Garrett, 2014)
To treat them, an untested serum is utilized called ZMapp. It was provided to two American and one Spanish nurse. The American patients were able to make a full recovery and resume their work. However, the Spanish nurse died of Ebola several weeks later. This is showing how the vaccine is providing mixed results. These areas are problematic, as they are challenging the need to prevent the epidemic from spreading. Yet, at the same time, it is underscoring how the boundaries of ethics are being challenged from the scope and severity of the disease. (Chedekel, 2014) To fully understand what is happening requires analyzing the issue, evaluating the moral dimensions of public health options and justifying a specific response. Together, these elements will highlight the ...
Analysis of the Ethical Issue
The public health goals are to protect safety by preventing the disease from spreading to other regions. The problem is that cultural practices and the lack of knowledge about identifying key warning signs among healthcare workers is compounding the problem. This enables someone who is infected to travel to different regions and potentially spread Ebola to those they come in close contact with. To make matters worse, the vaccines for treating the condition has never fully been tested. This means that the effects and possible side effects are unknown. For healthcare professionals, these issues are creating challenges in following the highest ethical practices and the need to protect the public. In this case, the primary objectives are to contain the disease to certain areas and protect those who have the greatest chances of exposure.
If some kind of action is not taken, there is a realistic possibility the disease could mutate and spread. Once this happens, is when the total number of cases could skyrocket (creating a pandemic). This is when the global economy will become paralyzed from fears surrounding Ebola. The different stakeholders are arguing that the use of the ZMapp serum is important to vary degrees. Where they have contrasting views, is based upon their interpretation of ethics and how they are applied to this situation.
For instance, many individuals who are against using an untested vaccine argue that drugs alone will not solve the problem. Instead, a much different approach must be taken by educating the public, communicating with stakeholders and working together to prevent the spread of Ebola. The various laws and court cases are showing that the ethical use of vaccinations will depend upon the situation. The most relevant case precedent can be seen with…
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