Edited collection – call for abstracts on: Infectious Diseases in the New Millennium: Legal and Ethical Challenges

By Mark Eccleston-Turner, Birmingham City University

Summary of project: The era of infectious diseases was meant to have ended – no longer was man to be burdened by the mortality and morbidity posed by viruses and microbes. The shift in focus towards non-communicable diseases since 2000, at the international and domestic level, is testament to the faith put in such a statement. However, since the new millennium we have seen a promulgation of infectious diseases causing dramatic health implications around the world. SARS, pandemic influenza, MERS, Ebola, Zika, and MDR-infections have all blighted man since 2000, and look set to continue to do so. These infectious diseases in the modern era have also raised a number of difficult legal and ethical questions that need to be answered, including: What is the role of the World Health Organisation in such outbreaks, and how is the organisation to be held accountable when things go wrong? How do we ensure the drugs are created to treat the next outbreak? What is the role of resource rich, disease poor nations in such outbreaks? Are the International Health Regulations that govern international response to infectious diseases fit for purpose? Has the shift to a rights based approach improved the response to infectious diseases? This edited collection is intended to explore these questions, whilst reflecting upon infectious diseases outbreaks that have occurred in the new millennium.


The themes for contribution is as follows:
1) The response – the response to a number of the infectious diseases that have occurred in the new millennium has been led by non-governmental organisations, such as Medicines Sans Frontiers and/or the military. This raises a number of key questions regarding the obligations of these entities to those affected including: To what extent should the military control the health related operations? What are the obligations of NGOs in the response? What is the relationship between the military operation and NGO operation? Does the relationship between military and host states cause any conflict of interests?
2) Accountability and compliance – the responses (or lack thereof) to infectious diseases in the new millennium have raised a number of questions with regards to accountability and compliance. Firstly, on the part of states that act in a manner which worsens or prolongs the outbreaks. Secondly, the actions of the WHO. This raises a number of key questions, such as: How do we best manage non-compliance with the international law that regulates state action during a pandemic? Is the WHO being appropriately held to account within the international community for their action/inaction during a pandemic? Does the law of international responsibility apply to the WHO for its actions during a pandemic?
3) Pharmaceuticals – One of the key characteristics of infectious diseases in the new millennium has been the lack of available pharmaceuticals to treat or prevent the outbreaks when they’ve occurred. This raises a number of key questions: What are the barriers to ensuring that pharmaceuticals are available for the next infectious disease outbreak? How do we overcome such barriers? What are the ethical problems in using experimental drugs, when no such licensed product is available? Who should fund the research and development of pharmaceuticals to treat infectious diseases that predominately affect developing states, when industry has no incentive to do so?
4) Resource allocation –infectious diseases outbreaks in the new millennium have been characterised by the need to allocate sparse resources, which are in high demand, be they healthcare workers, pharmaceuticals, or money. Such questions of allocation have arisen at both the national and international level. The infectious disease outbreaks that have occurred have raised a number of key questions such as: what are the key barriers preventing developing states gaining timely access to the resources they require? How can such barriers be overcome? Should healthcare workers receive priority access to treatments? Should healthcare workers that travel from non-infected states receive priority access? How can the WHO best ensure that resources are available to affected states during a pandemic?
5) A rights based approach – the movement towards a rights based approach in global health has been one of the predominant themes in global health and the law in the new millennium. The infectious disease outbreaks that have occurred concurrently have raised a number of key questions such as: what is the role of the right to health in pandemic response? Was the right to health breached in any of the responses to infectious diseases in the new millennium, and was this justified? What would a ‘rights-based’ response to an infectious disease in the new millennium look like?
Instructions for authors:
Abstracts are to be submitted via email to mark.turner@bcu.ac.uk as a MS Word document attachment. Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words (include a provisional title and five keywords or phrases), and should highlight the ‘theme’ from the call you wish your paper to be considered for.
We are currently working towards a 2018 publication date, and full papers of 10,000 words (excluding footnotes) would be required for editing in mid-2017. Further details will be provided in the event of publication.
Deadline for abstracts: 1st September 2016
Palgrave Macmillan has expressed a strong willingness to publish this collection, but, as is the case with edited collections, Palgrave will not give approval for publication prior to reviewing a full skeleton of the papers to be included. Therefore, while I am confident of this collection being published, I cannot guarantee it.

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