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Public health law

Te ture hauora tūmatanui

Update: This course is now full. If you would like to go on a waitlist, please email

Thursday 27 February 2020

Do you work in public health, health policy, public policy, a district health board or nongovernment organisation? If so, law governs all your activities!

Law is a determinant of and a tool for public health. Understanding how law works, and how it underpins public health, is vital to ensure we work effectively. Creative ways of harnessing law will help New Zealand meet new challenges in public health.

This course gives a basic introduction to law: where to find it and how to interpret it. The course will provide an overview of the legal frameworks that govern public health law in relation to communicable disease issues, environmental health, and products such as tobacco, alcohol, and gambling. The course focuses on New Zealand law, but includes an overview of international law with relevance to New Zealand.

Topics covered  

  • Law: what it is, where to find it, how to understand it
  • Legal frameworks in New Zealand; relationship between international law and New Zealand
  • Introduction to law of communicable disease: case notification, management, and contact tracing emergencies
  • Introduction to environmental health law
  • Introduction to public health law on products with adverse risks for health, using case-studies of tobacco, alcohol and gambling.

Style of course

The course will be taught with small group teaching, discussions, exercises, scenario-based, and debates.

Who should attend?  

The course is designed for those who work in district health boards, public health units, non-government health organisations, Māori health providers, and for those with policy and operational responsibilities for public health in local government or central agencies.

By the end of this course participants should have:

Skills in:

  • Finding and interpreting New Zealand law relevant to public health that is applicable to their areas of work and interest
  • Understanding New Zealand’s legal framework, including levels of law and general law applicable to public health

Knowledge of current law:

  • National and international law applicable to specific public health topics relevant to work responsibilities

Draft timetable

Time Session
8:30am Registration
9:00am Welcome, announcements and introductions
Public health law in New Zealand
10:30am Morning tea
11:00am Communicable disease law
Environmental health law
12:30pm Lunch break
1:15pm Public health emergencies
Public Health Law and products: Introduction and case-studies
3:00pm Afternoon tea
3:30pm Overview of international legal frameworks with health implications eg on climate change
5:00pm Finish

Teaching staff  

  • Louise Delany is a senior lecturer in Public Health Law, Public Health Ethics and Global Health Law at the University of Otago, Wellington. She has a masters in law, specialising in international law. Interests include public policy, public health, law, public health law, international/global health, and public health ethics. In public health Louise has focused primarily on the law and ethics of communicable disease, pandemic and emergency issues; in addition to noncommunicable disease challenges arising from tobacco, alcohol, and gambling, all of which have international and globalised dimensions. Louise authored four chapters on public health in New Zealand for Health Law in New Zealand (ed) Peter Skegg and Ron Paterson, Thomson Reuters. Auckland, 2015:
  • Plus guest speakers to be confirmed

Course cost and registration

$300 early bird, $400 after 19 December 2019.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.

Register now