Bioethics Blogs

Was it ethical for the American missionaries to be treated for Ebola ahead of Liberians? Dr. Celia B. Fisher weighs in

Players of the ”L’Etoile de Guinee” football team poses with a sign reading ”Stop to the ebola epidemic” prior to a football tournament gathering youth from Guinea near the Koumassi sports center in Abidjan on August 10, 2014. West Africa was counting the cost of measures to contain the deadly Ebola epidemic on August 10, as unprecedented restrictions caused snarled transport, food shortages and soaring prices.  Photo credit: SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

As the world comes to terms with the recent Ebola outbreak, several ethical questions have arisen, many of which relate to the distributions of Ebola vaccines, and who should be given priority.

Was it ethical for the two American missionaries to receive treatment for Ebola ahead of the local Liberian population?

Fordham University Center for Ethics Education Director Dr. Celia B. Fisher weighed in on this topic in an article on Vox.com by Brandon Ambrosino

The article specifically aimed to address whether it went against the two Christian missionaries’ mission to accept the Ebola vaccine ahead of the population they were there to serve.

“Although missionaries have a higher calling, like other helping professionals, they have a moral responsibility to consider what actions will best promote the good,” Fisher explained. “The fact that the missionary with Ebola is fighting an epidemic that is affecting many people, changes the moral question from simply whether or not he has a moral obligation to prioritize one other person’s health over his own, but which choice has the greater possibility of  preventing the spread of the disease across many people.”

According to Fisher, in the current crises, since there is not enough of the drug to have it available to other community members, the most life-saving steps are those that guide the community in public health safety procedures.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.