Public Health Law to Support Pandemic Influenza Preparedness
The project consists of two substantive components. Component 1 will develop a network of interdisciplinary expertise in public health law. This will be achieved by establishing a Platform for European Public Health Law Expertise by means of a website to facilitate exchange of data and expertise. The research team will identify expertise in public health law in Member States, establish a network of expertise and facilitate communication and exchange by means of conferences, seminars and web contact. Component 2 will develop a profile of public health law supporting disease preparedness across Europe, by means of case studies focusing on a defined list of public health measures related to communicable disease control and interventions for the purposes of comparison.
While our analysis of Member States' legislative frameworks will inform the control of generic disease threats, the focus of the case studies will be on pandemic influenza control. The objective of the cases studies will be to identify commonalities, inconsistencies and gaps in disease control regulation across states. A database of European laws addressing pandemic influenza will be developed in English and will be available through the website.
Human pandemic influenza poses global challenges to human health protection. Law is an important tool in the armoury of states in disease control, but our preliminary research suggests that national laws across Europe are disparate and inadequate in addressing disease control and prevention. We have shown that, in their pandemic preparedness planning, a substantial number of countries anticipate the need to reform their public heath laws. Given that the framing of laws by Member States varies considerably, the opportunity exists for national public health law reforms to result in greater coherence. Preparations related to adoption of the International Health Regulations also offer an incentive to reform. The objective of this project is to strengthen Member States' legal frameworks in support of pandemic influenza preparedness in a timely manner.[+] Read More
There is considerable potential for the use of law as a tool in disease control and prevention. WHO noted that effective control of the SARS outbreak in 2003 relied more on traditional control measures embedded in legislation such as contact tracing and quarantine, than on modern medical technology. Our preliminary research suggests that there are marked inconsistencies in laws within Europe. Laws may not be sufficiently or uniformly grounded in the emerging public health evidence base. Consequently the public health benefits which should accrue through the judicious application of laws may not be fully realised.
Much national public health law addresses nineteenth century perceptions of public health threats and is grounded in nineteenth century mores. Many national disease control laws fail to recognise contemporary issues of human rights and health ethics. We have earlier demonstrated that a substantial number of EU Member States have identified the need to update their domestic legislation in response to the threat of pandemic influenza. This project aims to provide knowledge and build expert capacity which will enable European states to frame laws which assist public health programmes in relation to pandemic influenza, and in so doing to strengthen a coherent Europe-wide approach to pandemic influenza preparedness.
The use of law as a public health tool in relation to all communicable and non-communicable disease threats to health.