Ethics and health

Ethical issues in global health

These are some public health areas where WHO is involved in providing leadership and guidance on the ethical issues involved.

A doctor is opening an HIV test, Research centre on narcology, Moscow, Russia
    The HIV epidemic has raised many ethical challenges for public health officials, researchers and clinicians, reaching from macro-level policy to micro-level clinical decisions.
An organ is being removed during surgery.
Pandemic influenza.
  • Outbreaks and emergencies
    Ethical concerns associated with the planning, preparedness and responses to future pandemics are important to consider, ensuring that response efforts are not hindered in the event of a pandemic.
Health research ethics.
  • Research ethics
    Research ethics govern the standards of conduct for scientific researchers.
Surveillance ethics.
  • Surveillance
    Surveillance is one of the most fundamental activities of public health, involving different areas and practices such as non-communicable disease registers, outbreak investigations, and health systems research.
Ethics of tuberculosis care and control.
  • Tuberculosis care and control
    Ethical issues include questions about the equitable distribution of resources, protection of vulnerable groups, respect for patient choice of treatment options and solidarity between communities during outbreaks.


Global Health Ethics Unit
Department of Knowledge, Ethics and Research
World Health Organization
20, Avenue Appia
CH-1211 Genève 27