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Seminar: The global emergence of public health ethics

Wednesday 20 February 2019 11:49am

The global emergence of public health ethics

Friday 15th March 2019 1:00-2:00 pm
Bioethics Seminar Room, Level 2, Otago Business School – Rm 206

Associate Professor James C. Thomas PhD, University of North Carolina

Ethics are often about imbalances of power. In public health, the power imbalances are principally between a population and its government, rather than between a patient and a clinician. But only recently has public health ethics distinguished itself from medical ethics. The emergence of public health ethics has been driven in part by global phenomena, such as the threat of pandemics. Dr. Thomas will describe this emergence and its expression in different cultures.

Jim Thomas is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the MEASURE Evaluation project at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As an epidemiologist, Dr. Thomas has studied the social epidemiology of sexually transmitted diseases, including for example, the unintended consequences of mass incarceration on community health. Dissatisfied with the ability of medical ethics to address the social inequities in the populations he was studying, Dr. Thomas played a foundational role in defining the field of public health ethics. He was the principal author of the American public health code of ethics. In the context of global health, he is interested in cross-cultural public health ethics, and ethics in digital information systems.