Global health ethics

Outbreaks and emergencies

Earthquake Haiti 2010, Multimedia area on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief
WHO/Victor Ariscain


Responses to epidemics, emergencies and disasters raise many ethical issues for the people involved, including public health specialists and policy makers. WHO has been developing guidelines and training materials on ethical issues arising in different types of epidemics, such as pandemic influenza, Ebola, and Zika. The organization supports its Member States in capacity-building in this area, and carries out trainings and workshops in countries.

Online training

This eLearning course has been adapted entirely from the WHO training manual Ethics in epidemics, emergencies and disasters: Research, surveillance and patient care.

What WHO is doing


On 11 August 2014, WHO convened a consultation to consider and assess the ethical implications for clinical decision-making of the potential use of unregistered interventions.

Pandemic influenza

A number of challenging ethical issues are raised by a potential influenza pandemic. Ethical concerns associated with the planning, preparedness and responses to future pandemics are important to consider, ensuring that response efforts are not hindered in the event of a pandemic.

Related publications