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D3.4 - Legal Ethical Political Implications

on Thu, 04/17/2014 - 10:25

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D3.4 Legal Ethical Political Implications

This document aims to highlight prominent legal, ethical and political issues that will surround the use of the TELL ME NEW Framework Model (the NFM), by incorporating the knowledge and findings already generated in the TELL ME project, in particular deliverable T1.6 on Human Rights, Stigmatization and Risk of Discrimination Against Specific Population Segments and Target Groups.

The purpose will be to apply the knowledge already generated in the first part of the project to the NFM, whose aim was to develop a new model for pandemic communication that was less focused on a hierarchical and linear approach, as has been common in the past, and more focused on the mediation of the message and the dichotomy between sender and addressee as being of central importance.

The organization of public health communication activities proposed in the model raises a series of issues:

Among the legal obligations that may pertain to the NFM, the most relevant is the International Health Regulations, created by the World Health Organization. Some of these requirements do seem relevant towards to NFM, in particular, those aspects related to the ‘core preparedness’ of states for epidemic and pandemics. The implementation of the NFM would accordingly appear consistent with such obligations.

Health communication campaigns are, in addition to positive effects, able to create stigmatizing atmospheres that may be conducive to discrimination for others. Therefore, it is important to consider the potential of individuals to use legal frameworks to restrain public health bodies where their activities (including in the context of the NFM) may be able to create such problems.

Public health communication programs (including the NFM) are subject to some more focused legal frameworks. These notably include rules of protection of individual privacy (and most notably data protection) and also freedom of Information laws (FOI).

Whilst the integral use of a wide range of stakeholders (proposed in the NFM) will allow a much greater interaction with the public, it brings with it added complications that entail a far greater reliance on private parties than traditional models of public health communication. This can raise both ethical and political issues because private organizations are not subject to the same accountability mechanisms (i.e. control through executive and legislatures) that public bodies will often be.