Essay Example for You: Ethical Issues in Health Surveillance in Developing Countries

Published: 2022-11-07
Essay Example for You: Ethical Issues in Health Surveillance in Developing Countries
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Ethics Healthcare
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 991 words
9 min read

Health surveillance is a continuous process of health-related risk checks and monitoring. It is mainly the source of relevant information used in policy development and resource allocation for health purposes. In developing nations, health surveillance is a complicated matter due to numerous inhibiting factors. The lack of necessary resources and personnel for use in the surveillances critically distorts the results of any given research method or surveillance style. Available data collection and prevalence or severity estimation techniques often fail the developing nations. Extrapolation of results is an unrealistic means of estimation that often leads to misrepresentation of the health conditions of developing nations. This action results in the establishment of inappropriate policies and the inadequacy of intervention measures. Conducting reliable and valid medical research in developing countries often raises ethical questions. The questions are based not only on the methodology but also on the vulnerability of the participants.

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An Analysis of the Ethical Implications of Not Investigating Diseases/Conditions in Developing Countries

The availability of health information about any given population is beneficial to responsible authorities. A valid and reliable health surveillance system is informative and acts as the guide for public health policy development. However, misrepresentation of information based on research can be detrimental to the purpose and objective of conducting any surveillance. According to Cooper, Osotimehin, Kaufman, and Forrester (1998), the available surveillance methods fail to paint an accurate picture of the burden of disease in developing nations. Cooper et al. (1998) argue that techniques such as those applied in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) are based on assumptions and extrapolation. Hence, they are inappropriate for medical study. The surveillance methods are not representative of the societies that they claim to investigate. The lack of medical infrastructure and personnel necessary for research makes it difficult for the surveillance methods to prevail in developing nations. As a result, researchers rely on assumptions and extrapolation to estimate outcomes. According to Khan and Lasker (2014), to achieve the objectives of any medical research, researchers must consider sound scientific and ethical principles. The accuracy of information from such study is essential to all the parties involved including developed nations.

Owing to the interconnectedness of the modern world, knowing the prevalence of certain diseases in specific regions is critical to the wellbeing of the whole world. Failure to accurately establish the level of a pandemic in developed countries could lead to the reemergence of the disease in developed nations. According to Heymann and Rodier (2004), inadequate surveillance and response capacity in a given nation not only endangers the population in that nation but also the rest of the world. The interconnectedness of the world in disease outbreaks was a hard lesson that the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome of 2003 taught the world. Thus, it is essential to conduct surveillance in developing countries. Third world nations are often on the losing side of infectious diseases. According to Morens, Folkers, and Fauci, (2004), these regions often bear the most significant burden of infectious diseases. Based on the interconnectedness between developed and the developing nations, assuming the responsibility in the latter could be fatal.

Who Should Be Held Responsible For Establishing, Maintaining, and Monitoring Public Health Surveillance Systems in Developing Countries?

Given the interconnectedness between countries, the world, in general, should be responsible for establishing, maintaining, and monitoring public health surveillance systems in developing countries. . Globalization has enabled the movement of people across international borders. This move has increased the spread of diseases. As a result, developed countries are in the receiving end of an outbreak. According to Van Doorn (2014), the invasiveness of human beings based on economic activities increases the transferability of pathogens and diseases to all parts of the world. For these reasons, developed nations have invested heavily in global surveillance of infections in all parts of the world. According to Nii-Trebi (2017), the massive investment in surveillance of diseases is because the international community recognizes the need to enhance preparation and response to such threats.

Developing nations bear a considerable burden of infectious diseases due to the unavailability of resources. As a result, most of the international community investment in health surveillance often focuses on the developing nations. The international community is also wary of the fact that people from developed countries often visit developing countries. According to Blazes, Riddle, and Ryan, (2015), traveling to the risky underdeveloped nations increases the risk of contracting the disease. Therefore, fighting infectious diseases in those countries is beneficial to the whole world. According to Lindahl and Grace (2015), globalization is one of the leading causes of infectious disease emergence. Therefore, fighting infectious diseases in developing countries helps limit the role of globalization in disease transmission. One of the available methods of controlling disease transferability is surveillance and prevention. Thus, the responsibility for monitoring lies with the international community and especially developed nations. Developed nations have enough resources to invest in research and development of the medical and health strategies.


Blazes, D. L., Riddle, M. S., & Ryan, E. T. (2015). The local importance of global infectious diseases. doi: 10.1186/s40794-015-0004-7

Cooper, R. S., Osotimehin, B., Kaufman, J. S., & Forrester, T. (1998). Disease burden in sub-Saharan Africa: What should we conclude in the absence of data? The Lancet, 351(9097), 208-210. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(97)06512-4

Heymann, D. L., & Rodier, G. (2004). Global surveillance, national surveillance, and SARS. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 10(2), 173. doi: 10.3201/eid1002.031038

Khan, M. H. A., & Lasker, S. P. (2014). A review of ethics in developing country in perspective of dental research. Bangladesh Journal of Bioethics, 5(1), 11-19. doi:10.3329/bioethics.v5i1.18443

Lindahl, J. F., & Grace, D. (2015). The consequences of human actions on the risks of infectious diseases: A review. Infection Ecology & Epidemiology, 5(1), 30048. doi: 10.3402/iee.v5.30048

Morens, D. M., Folkers, G. K., & Fauci, A. S. (2004). The challenge of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Nature, 430(6996), 242.

Nii-Trebi, N. I. (2017). Emerging and neglected infectious diseases: Insights, advances, and challenges. Biomed Research International, 2017. doi: 10.1155/2017/5245021

Van Doorn, H. R. (2014). Emerging infectious diseases. Medicine, 42(1), 60-63. doi: 10.1016/j.mpmed.2013.10.014

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