Archive for the ‘Ethics in Public Health’ Category

By Dionna Joynes

If you couldn’t tell from the title of this blog post, then I will warn you all now. The topic of this post is HIGHLY disturbing in the way that it violates basic human rights, encourages the degradation of young future women in the long term, uses the face of culture and purity as a wayward choice to control the girls in specific communities, and it may even cause for a closer look at the health care providers you and your family use, So, for those of you who don’t know, this post is about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as FGC, Female Genital Circumcision. A short definition of what this process implies is, intentional injury to female genital organs for non medical purposes. This process has occurred for at least a couple centuries, at the very least. As I researched the topic of FGM, there were many things that came up that interested, as well as disgusted me. As a Health Science/Public Health student, I always try to remain open minded and non judgmental for new ideas that are completely different from the ones I grew up on. However, the practice of FGM, in my opinion, should signal for a global emergency or call of action. (more…)


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-By Vidya Attaluri

About nine years ago I was introduced to and learned more about the concept of euthanasia after seeing it portrayed on a television show I was watching. As a young teen I had what may be an unexpected reaction in full support of the concept of euthanasia for those who are terminally ill and have full understanding of what their decision to participate in euthanasia means for both them and their loved ones. But how do you determine who is mature enough to make this decision? Should there be an age limit on who can participate or what illnesses can be considered to require euthanasia? Who gets to decide these things?

In a groundbreaking decision on February 13th, 2014 Belgium became the first country in the world to allow euthanasia for incurably ill children. I learned about the impactful new law through an article in the New York Times, “Belgium Close to Allowing Euthanasia for Ill Minors” by Dan Bilefsky. This article discussed the new law as well as the criticisms and reactions that followed its adoption. The law states that euthanasia would be allowed for terminally ill children that are close to death, experiencing “constant and unbearable suffering” and show a “capacity of discernment,” which would mean they understand the consequences of the decision to participate in euthanasia, as well as written consent from a legal guardian (Bilefsky, Year). In Europe, as compared to the United States, euthanasia has been a more widely accepted idea. Currently in the United States, as of January of 2014, euthanasia is banned nationwide but assisted dying, doctors prescribing a lethal dose of medication to terminally ill patients, is legal in Oregon, Washington, Montana, New Mexico, and Vermont. In Europe euthanasia is legal in The Netherlands, Luxembourg and in Switzerland assisted dying is legal. (more…)

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-By Nicole Rapkin

Should terminally ill children have the right to end their own lives? On Thursday, February 13, 2014, Belgium voted ‘yes’ when its lower house of parliament passed the new “right-to-die” legislation by a significant majority. Belgium, which legalized adult euthanasia in 2002, is the first country to allow euthanasia for terminally ill children of any age (Bartunek 2014). (more…)

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Two universities on the same street, both with “Boston” in their titles, but with two radically different policies towards student sexual health, and in particular the provision of condoms and contraceptives.

At Boston College, a Jesuit university on Commonwealth Avenue in Chestnut Hill, MA, students who have been distributing free condoms to their fellow students have recently been told to cease and desist, or face disciplinary action. http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/2013/03/27/boston-college-threatens-action-condom-giveaway/9o2UKvn9czUK6QFA3lzfTM/story.html  (more…)

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By Hena Thakur,

The advancing technological state of the current world has come to characterize daily life. Technology has penetrated our social lives, businesses and homes, and more recently is staged to expand its presence in the medical setting.  The New York Times published an article entitled, “Apps Alert The Doctor When Trouble Looms,” which highlights the testing being done on cellphones equipped with an application to monitor the movement, location, and relative social interaction of a patient via the number of text messages and phone calls the individual makes each day. If there appears to be a significant change in an individual’s physical or social behavior, the primary care physician is notified and the patient will receive a follow up call or visit to discuss the situation. Physicians and developers, alike, hope this process will serve as an early detection system for certain conditions, such as severe pain, depression, or other diseases that render an individual unfit to seek the medical attention they may need.


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This post discusses an article by Jonathon Lis and Sahar Shalev posted on Harvard School of Public Health’s World Health News page that describes the legislation in Israel that banned the use of underweight models in advertising as a means of reducing anorexia and other eating disorders.

Eating disorders (EDs) are currently considered among the most prevalent public health problems. While this article discusses Israel specifically, this topic is directly related to an epidemic sprouting around the world. In my studies, I have found that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. In American high schools, 30 percent of girls and 16 percent of boys schools suffer from disordered eating habits which have been linked to serious risk-taking behaviors such as drug, alcohol and tobacco use, delinquency, unprotected sexual activity, dating violence, and suicide attempts. The root of the problem lies primarily within society’s portrayal and emphasis of beauty as one of mathematically minuscule proportions. Society has equated thinness with beauty. (more…)

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International drug trials are a major news topic in public health because many American drug companies are working with international drug companies to test their drugs outside of the United States.  One such country where major drug trials are often conducted is India. In recent years, the number of drug trials conducted in the United States has significantly decreased. Many Americans are choosing not to take part in trials due to their increased awareness of the health risks involved.  Only about 3% of American cancer patients take part in drug trials each year.  The number of American cardiac patients who take part in trials has decreased by half over the past five years (Kahn 3).  The recent drop in American drug trials has led to a great need for outsourcing drug trials to India.  Clinical trials in India have increased so much that some have categorized the country as a “hot spot” for global drug trials.  The souring number of trials has also brought about an increase in the practice of questionable medical ethics, which has led Indian communities to fall victim of international pharmaceutical drug testing.    (more…)

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