3 Human Rights Imperatives for Rationing Care in the Time of Coronavirus

Alicia Ely Yamin and Ole F. Norheim (2020)
Bill of Health blog, Harvard Law School

There is a notable silence as to one of the most critical decisions that almost every society will face during the COVID-19 pandemic: rationing scarce health care resources and access to care.

The failure to engage directly with the most difficult questions of tradeoffs implies that “human rights-based approaches” and mantras invoking a “right to health” somehow allow us to avoid facing these life and death dilemmas.

This stance makes human rights principles irrelevant to some of the most pressing issues health systems are now facing. Not acknowledging the need for rationing is akin to abdication to the market, as those with power, money, privilege and other sources of status will be the ones who get access to tests, treatments, ICU beds, and ventilators.

The blog post discusses three human rights-based imperatives which offer public health and medical ethics guidelines with respect to rationing within our health systems.

The full blog post is available via the link below: https://blog.petrieflom.law.harvard.edu/2020/03/27/rationing-health-care-coronavirus-human-rights/  

Alicia Ely Yamin is a Senior Fellow at Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics, Harvard Law School, and a Human Rights Advisor at the Bergen Centre for Ethics and Priority-Setting (BCEPS). She is a Research Leader for the Gender, Sexuality and the Law Unit at the LawTransform.

Ole F. Norheim is Director of the Bergen Centre for Ethics and Priority-Setting (BCEPS), University of Bergen, where he is also a professor, and an adjunct professor at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health.