Personal or Public Health?
Intuitively we feel that we ought (to attempt) to save the lives, or ameliorate the suffering, of identifiable individuals where we can. But this comes at a price. It means that there may not be any resources to save the lives of others in similar situations in the future. Or worse, there may not be enough resources left to prevent others from ending up in similar situations in the future. This chapter asks whether this is justifiable or whether we would be better served focusing on public health in the form of preventative medicine. It looks briefly at the supposed difference between benefiting individuals and benefiting populations by considering the difference between interventions aimed at ‘rescue’ and those which are preventative. It then considers the rule of rescue in the health care setting, and looks at some of the reasons stemming from this that we might have for allocating resources to rescue interventions. If these reasons do not provide adequate justification for preferring these types of interventions, then the implication is that our current mode of resource allocation may need to be revised in favour of a more public health-oriented model.
KeywordsPublic health individual health rule of rescue identifiable non-identifiable statistical victims discounting the future
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