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The SARS Outbreak Case Study

Case study: SARS | Free Essay Example

Old saying have it that the pursuit of money is the root of all evil: probably ever since the Jews of old, whom Jesus himself castigated for their cunning business manners, discovered how to tilt the weighing scales in their favor. For the sake of wealth, even slave trade merchants devalued human dignity to monetary terms, and profited from selling fellow men like wares at the open air market. In our world of technology, the industrialized west discovered long ago where to dump its leftovers for a kill- among the impoverished masses in the third world. To date, the average corporate player is of one concern, one motive and desire above all else; achieving the maximum possible profits from the minimum possible input. As investors, shareholders have a right to earn profits from the capital they inject into the business. Accordingly, managers are obliged to pursue business practices that promote stock values and, in effect, guarantee investors returns on their investment.

On the other hand, businesses benefit from society in many ways, such as getting a ready market for its products and cheap labor and transport infrastructure.   In relation to the case study in question, the dilemma facing Craig Elliott, THE CEO of Rosendahl, reflects the conflict between a business’s obligation to social responsibility and shareholder interests. While the CEO has a duty to protect the patent rights of the company’s product, the drug Holizan, he is morally obliged to make it make it available to the infected population of Mubanda, who have been infected with severe acute liver syndrome (SALS). Similarly, Mubanda’s health ministers is faced with the option of violating the company’s patent rights and produce a generic drug to save the infected population, or follow the rules and endanger the victims’ lives.  In reference to the SARS outbreak case study, this essay discusses the ethical issues presented by the case, and recommends possible action plans in light of the utilitarian, rights, categorical, justice and caring perspectives.

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Understanding the Situation

The facts of the case study make the situation a crisis that requires urgent action

The Major Ethical Dilemma

The ethical dilemma facing the compnay’s CEO and the country’s health minister relates to the responsibility each has to the parties they present. For Craig Elliot, he was answerable to the shareholders who have invested in the company and expected to make profits on their investment. In light of the shareholder model of management, managers have the responsibility of making profits for the investors. Accordingly, corporate managers hold as their priority the maximization of profits and total commitment to shareholder interests. Consequently, interest parties like consumers, suppliers, employees and the local community are exploited in favor of profits for the entrepreneur. On the opposite end, is the stakeholder model of corporate management, which holds that businesses have a social responsibility to individual groups and society, and, therefore, profit maximization should not be a business’s priority. As such, business managers should strive to strike a balance between making profits and giving back to society.

In this case, Craig is faced with the responsibility of making the drug available to the victims of the SALS outbreak, while at the same time making profits for the shareholders. However, to achieve one objective means that he should give up on the other. For instance, allowing the health minister to contract another company to manufacture generics will lower the drug’s share value, and, in the long run, result in huge losses for the shareholders. On the other hand, it will be morally wrong to seek profits at the expense of the suffering victims. As it were, his morals will be questioned if he considered the drug’s market value a priority over human life. He is aware of the fate of another pharmaceutical firm, Bristol-Myers Squibb, which was pressured to relax its patent rights to allow the manufacturing of generic drugs for HIV/Aids. He is worried if Rosendahl will come under similar pressure if it refuses to either sell the drug at a cheaper price or allow for the manufacturing of generics.

Mubanda’s minister for health understands that the country cannot afford to make the drug available to the victims, and at the same time prevent further SALS infections. She hopes to use a domestic law that allows the minister to overstep patent rights in cases of national crises. However, she is doubtful whether the present situation is already a national crisis, in which case she has the option of waiting to see how the situation develops. on the other hand, she is also aware of a similar situation in China in which the health minister was fired for taking too long to respond to a SARS outbreak.

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Analysis of Major Alternatives

From a utilitarian perspective, the minister and the CEO should act in the interest of the largest number of people. According to utilitarianism, an act is morally justified if it results in the good of the greatest number of people (Gomez-Lobo 114). In this regard, the making the drug available to the SALS victims, by whichever means, is an action that the CEO and the health minister should take.

The central mission of public health is the justice and fairness for all. It addresses fundamental public health issues beyond the perception of political and social importance.  There are core commitments that al who embrace the conception of social justice recognize as important. Among these core commitments are the rights of the victims involved, justice and caring issues.

The basic truth about social justice is that casual pathways have multiple dimensions of disadvantage. These dimensions include lack of funds (as in the case of Mubanda), lack of emergency preparedness, poverty, polluted environments, social disintegrations or unhygienic conditions. This agent result to systematic disadvantage in the public health sector and other aspects of social, economical and political life.

In addressing outbreak of diseases, especially non-existent diseases, social justice in providing health services should not be passive or market driven. Rather it should be based on ethical considerations that benefit not only the victims but also the service providers. In this case study, the drug manufacture should not stick to the normal drug price but be flexible enough to accept below normal price. To provide efficient health care empirical data should be used to determine the people at high risk and the most vulnerable. Mubanda being a third world country not much resource have been a located to cater for emergency situations such as disease outbreaks. This means that in case of disease outbreaks, the population is not only at risk but is also vulnerable to other opportunistic diseases. Health justice should be based on how to ameliorate the harm or reduce the risk, and how fairly the benefits and the services are distributed.

The deepest and perhaps the most persistent public health critique is that the field frequently have to stray beyond it boundaries. Heath institutions are frequently forced to turn its attention to larger health determinants. It is when maters of public health stays into poverty, social or political sphere that critics voice concerns about human right and justice.

While justice does not provide defense against claims of negligence or overcharging, social justice does. The position of justice shows that heal is not only a private matter but a matter of public concern. The state has an obligation to play a role not only in areas of sanitation and infectious disease, but also in emerging health issues such as chronic diseases resulting from lifestyle, diet and the environment. It is an obligation of heath agencies, public or private, to realize that socioeconomic determinants have multiple causes, some of which are beyond less developed countries.

When private pharmaceutical companies act, the face conflict between economic and personal interest on one hand, and collective gain of the population health on the other. The powers of players in the health industry encroach in fundamental human right issues such as freedom of association and movement, privacy and bodily integrity. Similarly, sanitary regulations intrude on economic rights such as interest of economic stats, freedom of contact, and the use of personal or national property.

The interactive and multicultural nature of the health sector suggests that opportunities for amelioration and prevention come up at all levels of governmental interactions. The main challenge of combating communicable diseases and the consequential systematic disadvantage can only be achieved through interaction of all levels of the government. For example, in the case of Mubanda, the government could decide to divert funs meant for other purposes to take care of these deadly diseases. All governments must have, or at least have a plan, to create a capacity to perform essential public health services such disease prevention and combating communicable diseases. This is the right of citizens.

National response to diseases is important not only for the needs and well-being of the public but is also universally compelling. Governments should invest and reorganize the need for strong public health systems. Certain problems such as outbreak of communicable diseases demand national and international attention. Such outbreaks might span large areas of a country and even spread to other countries posing international threat.

While it is true that some countries do not have the resources and expertise to mount effective response to disease outbreaks, international collaboration may be the best way forward. It is a fact that generic drugs provide a good and cheap alternative to people who can not afford original drugs, the manufacture of generic drugs must follow the set international guidelines. The generic drug manufacture must obtain permission from the original manufacture, even if there is no compensation. For a country like Mubanda that can not afford to order original drugs, acquiring generic drugs remains the best effective means of combating diseases.

Health emergencies pose a great potential for mass death or illness, often resulting into scarcity of medical resource such as medicines or hospital beds to counter the situation. It is no realistic that sufficient surge capacity or stockpiles will be available to meet sudden mass needs. Despite this fact, it is still important that players in the health industry such as government agencies be prepared for such eventualities, even if they do not have enough capacity to mount successful defense.

Nevertheless, it is worth of note that shareholders incur costs by injecting capital into business investments. All other subordinate parties, including employees and the local community, gain from individual investments in business through employment opportunities and development of infrastructure. In this regard, the investor should also be enabled to realize profits on their investment, but within acceptable business practices.