Developing World Bioethics
August 2015 Volume 15, Issue 2 Pages ii–iii, 59–114
Prioritising Healthcare Workers for Ebola Treatment: Treating Those at Greatest Risk to Confer Greatest Benefit
Priya Satalkar*, Bernice E. Elger and David M. Shaw
Article first published online: 6 FEB 2015
The Ebola epidemic in Western Africa has highlighted issues related to weak health systems, the politics of drug and vaccine development and the need for transparent and ethical criteria for use of scarce local and global resources during public health emergency. In this paper we explore two key themes. First, we argue that independent of any use of experimental drugs or vaccine interventions, simultaneous implementation of proven public health principles, community engagement and culturally sensitive communication are critical as these measures represent the most cost-effective and fair utilization of available resources. Second, we attempt to clarify the ethical issues related to use of scarce experimental drugs or vaccines and explore in detail the most critical ethical question related to Ebola drug or vaccine distribution in the current outbreak: who among those infected or at risk should be prioritized to receive any new experimental drugs or vaccines? We conclude that healthcare workers should be prioritised for these experimental interventions, for a variety of reasons.