Should public health be exempt from ethical regulations? Intricacies of research versus activity
Objective: To assess the role of ethical regulations in public health practice, and to review the need to exempt any public health activity from such ethical regulations. Methods: Literature review of published papers regarding ethical regulations in public health practice. Results: There is a current criticism of public health ethics as hindering rather than facilitating public health research. There is also an existing dilemma as to which Public health activities constitute research and are therefore subject to ethical regulations and which ones are exempt from such regulations. Conclusion: Exempting some public health activities from ethical regulation may occasion an inherent risk of subjective interpretation of the criteria guiding the distinction between Public health research and non-research. In order to avoid inadvertent breach of ethical regulations, ethical regulations should be applied to all public health activities whether formally classified as research or not.
East African Journal of Public Health Vol. 5 (3) 2008: pp. 160-162