In the media: Xavier Landes on the ethics of catastrophe
The article by SSE Riga Assistant Professor Xavier Landes presents the hard calls about the allocation of scarce resources that have to be made during catastrophic events such as pandemics.
Since the start of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, debates have been raging about whether old age is a justification strong enough for allocating beds and assisted ventilation in intensive care units.
Whereas under ordinary circumstances, medical duties, as captured by the Hippocratic oath, impose not to harm any patient, catastrophes prompt a shift of rationale toward maximising the benefits, or minimising harms, of medical intervention, a different ethical reasoning. Landes discusses the legitimacy of this priority given to the young and healthy.
At the end of the piece, he also stresses that the current sanitary crisis shouldn't obscure deeper, and more serious, issues such as the recent underinvestment in medical services all over developed countries, the impact of socioeconomic inequalities on health vulnerability and the looming epidemiologic dangers carried by climate change.