Global health ethics: an introduction to prominent theories and relevant topics.Glob Health Action. 2014;7:23569
Authors: Stapleton G, Schröder-Bäck P, Laaser U, Meershoek A, Popa D
Global health ethics is a relatively new term that is used to conceptualize the process of applying moral value to health issues that are typically characterized by a global level effect or require action coordinated at a global level. It is important to acknowledge that this account of global health ethics takes a predominantly geographic approach and may infer that the subject relates primarily to macro-level health phenomena. However, global health ethics could alternatively be thought of as another branch of health ethics. It may then relate to specific topics in themselves, which might also include micro-level health phenomena. In its broadest sense, global health ethics is a normative project that is best characterized by the challenge of developing common values and universal norms for responding to global health threats. Consequently, many subjects fall within its scope. Whilst several accounts of global health ethics have been conceptualized in the literature, a concise demarcation of the paradigm is still needed. Through means of a literature review, this paper presents a two-part introduction to global health ethics. First, the framework of 'borrowed' ethics that currently form the core of global health ethics is discussed in relation to two essential ethical considerations: 1) what is the moral significance of health and 2) what is the moral significance of boundaries? Second, a selection of exemplar ethical topics is presented to illustrate the range of topics within global health ethics.