COVID-19 raises urgent ethical issues for each of us. Our experts shape real-time responses.

Focus Area: Health & Health Care

Efforts to enhance health care delivery systems and improve population health inevitably raise ethical dilemmas. As health care costs rise worldwide, governments debate whether—and how—they can make health care more accessible while also improving its quality and safety.

The ethical questions that arise may pertain to specific situations, like how to handle certain unique medical cases or how to deal with diagnostic and medical errors, or be broad, like what role the health care system plays in improving health. The role of regulations, environmental redesign, and incentives all come into question when determining how to change systems and the behavior of large populations.

While health care is integral to humans’ well-being, so are social and economic factors such as income, education, neighborhoods, access to foods, and personal choice. All need to be taken into consideration when weighing costs and benefits, safety and risks, competing notions of fairness, and individual rights versus community well-being.

Today, as society reckons with the challenges of systemic racism and a global pandemic, The Hastings Center is working to advance a society that is stronger, more equitable, more trustworthy, and sustainable.