The relevance of ethics in the European Union’s second public health programme
Aim: The objective of this paper was to investigate whether ethical values were explicitly identified in the Second Public Health Programme (2008-2013) of the European Commission.
Methods: A qualitative case study methodology of exploratory nature was followed. The data used were the summaries of the project proposals and Public Health Programme objectives and was retrieved from the publicly available Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency database. Since the PHP was finalized during the study, the study only focused on the summaries of the fifty-five finalized project proposals while excluding the ongoing projects and those projects at the reporting stage. The full proposals for the projects are confidential and thus could not be retrieved. However, the project summaries were inarguably sufficient to conduct the study. Using a table, a content analysis method in addition to the ethical framework, was applied in order to analyze and categorise the project findings.
Results: The results unfold that, out of the seven ethical principles, only ‘equity’ and ‘efficiency’ were explicitly considered in eighteen projects and four projects respectively. Moreover, from the shared health values, eight projects identified aspects pertaining to ‘accessibility to quality health care’ while ‘solidarity’ was only discussed in one project. Lastly, the ethical aspects ‘ethics’ and ‘values’ were identified in three projects and in one project respectively.
Conclusions: From the results, there is a limited consideration of ethical principles within the projects. Therefore, future public health programmes could use this as an opportunity to emphasis on the inclusion and application of ethical principles in public health projects.
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