Ethical Issues Related to New Developments in the Health Sector

         The Regional Committee,

         Noting the continuing relevance of primary health care and the need to continue to adapt it in response to changing circumstances;

         Further noting the need to ensure that new developments in the health sector result in health care that is consistent with ethical principles, taking into account cultural and national contexts;

         Acknowledging that there are a number of key ethical concepts used in health care, research and other concerns related to health and development, including fairness in the allocation of resources, principles of biomedical ethics, equity, human rights, and consideration of the social and economic determinants of health;

         Recognizing that new developments in the areas of genomics, care of chronic conditions, patient safety and the integration of traditional medicine with modern medicine pose challenges for the health sector, some entirely new;

  1. URGES Member States:
    (1) to continue to use the primary health care concept, adapted in response to changing circumstances and specific country needs, as one of the bases on which health systems are built;
    (2) to ensure that principles of biomedical ethics, fairness, equity, human rights and consideration of social determinants of health are fully taken account of in health policies;
    (3) to build capacity to incorporate ethical principles and concepts into health-related work;
  2. REQUESTS the Regional Director:
    (1) to continue to improve channels of information between Member States and WHO so that information on ethical issues can be shared;
    (2) to work with countries to encourage the integration of principles of equity and fairness into health policies;
    (3) to ensure that the development of WHO programmes is firmly grounded on ethical principles;
    (4) to work with countries and WHO Headquarters to pursue further work in this area, to draw up a systematic framework to guide countries on integrating ethical issues into their public health policies, and to report back to the Regional Committee by 2006.

20 September 2002

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