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The Ebola outbreak in Western Africa: ethical obligations for care


The recent wave of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Western Africa and efforts to control the disease where the health system requires strengthening raises a number of ethical challenges for healthcare workers practicing in these countries. We discuss the implications of weak health systems for controlling EVD and limitations of the ethical obligation to provide care for patients with EVD using Nigeria as a case study. We highlight the right of healthcare workers to protection that should be obligatorily provided by the government. Where the national government cannot meet this obligation, healthcare workers only have a moral and not a professional obligation to provide care to patients with EVD. The national government also has an obligation to adequately compensate healthcare workers that become infected in the course of duty. Institutionalisation of policies that protect healthcare workers are required for effective control of the spread of highly contagious diseases like EVD in a timely manner.

  • Clinical Ethics
  • Codes of/Position Statements on Professional Ethics
  • Distributive Justice
  • Right to Refuse Treatment
  • Research Ethics

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