10 PUBLIC HEALTH PRINCIPLES
A MEMO TO THE WORLD
In times of emergency, when uncertainty and fear are rampant, societies function best if they uphold long-standing principles and ethical values, developed over many years through collective wisdom.
Here are 10 basic principles in public health that should be revived and re-committed to by all nations.
10 PUBLIC HEALTH PRINCIPLES
Human dignity and personal freedoms should be upheld under all circumstances. Any restrictions on individual freedom, on public health grounds, must be temporary and case-specific, and should be undertaken as a last resort under an exceedingly high burden of proof of their necessity, reasonableness and proportionality.
A holistic definition of health includes physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being.
Individuals have the right to bodily integrity, i.e. to make free choices regarding their body and to be free of any interference with their body to which they do not consent.
Health professionals should only recommend health interventions based on individual needs and only if the benefits outweigh the risks for that person.
Health professionals must obtain informed and voluntary consent from individuals before any medical intervention. Inaccurate information, psychological manipulation and any form of coercion render consent invalid.
Public health interventions should protect private medical information. Interventions that lead to discrimination and stigmatisation based on personal health care choices are unethical.
Public health interventions should take into account biological (pathogen, genetic factors, health status, medical interventions…), as well as social determinants of health, including economic stability and employment, neighbourhood and physical environment, community support and mental wellbeing and access to and quality of education, food and health care.
A multi-disciplinary approach should be undertaken to assess the short-, medium- and long-term effects of any public health intervention prior to its implementation.
Individuals and communities directly affected by public health interventions should participate in the decision-making process to ensure their fairness, appropriateness and success.
Trust in public health is built on transparency and honesty. Policies and recommendations should be based on accurate data — free of conflicts of interest. They must also be subjected to continuous improvement through open scientific debate.
All decisions related to individual and public health should be guided by these principles in order to improve health and quality of life for all.
Are you curious to know whether the World Health Organization followed these public health principles when recommending the global Covid-19 response?
You are invited to explore
THE WHO REVIEW AND WHY IT MATTERS TO YOU
Many thanks to Dr Jonathan Engler, Emma McArthur, Dr David Bell, Heike Brunner, Heidi Short, Prof. Paul Frijters, and Chris Gordon for their valuable review and feedback.
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Very well written! Thank you for putting it all together so clearly. When one compares it to how things actually were handled, it’s easy to see it’s all been the EXACT opposite of your points, and has led to nothing short of a continuous disaster for all humanity. I pray that after we defeat the rising tyranny, points like yours are seared into our collective consciousness and we work tirelessly to enshrine them worldwide as the standard of care for all.