Session Type: Section Call for Papers
Session Capacity: N/A
Hotel: Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel
Room: Virginia Suite A
Floor: Lobby Level
The 2014 West African outbreak of the Ebola virus is the most severe epidemic attributed to this pathogen since 1976, when international health officials began keeping records on Ebola. As of August 2014, the total number of suspected cases has approached 2,000 and the number of suspected deaths has exceeded 1,000. The World Health Organization has designated the health crisis as one of international concern. The law has a strong stake in containing this outbreak and preventing future episodes of this kind.
The section invited papers addressing issues of law and policy arising from the Ebola outbreak. Issues may include (but by no means were limited to) the following:
Why was the international legal and public health community so slow to recognize the 2014 Ebola outbreak? Human beings are supremely attuned to threats posed by other humans (such as war or terrorism), but far less prepared for threats deemed "natural" or "environmental." How should law accommodate and/or offset this biological predisposition?
There is no vaccine or cure for Ebola. Medicines for treating Ebola, carrying some hope of reducing the mortality rate, are in extremely short supply. What are the bioethical implications raised by the decision to devote the extremely limited supplies of Ebola medication — no more than a handful of doses as of August 2014 — to medical workers of non-African origin? How should the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and its foreign counterparts handle petitions to expedite the experimental use of Ebola medication?
The failure to contain Ebola to a few, geographically concentrated cases has enabled the virus to infect four countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria) as of August 2014. Relatively severe public health measures, ranging from the quarantine to the cordon sanitaire, are contemplated and may be implemented in varying degrees in one or more affected countries. What are the legal implications of resorting to law enforcement or even military solutions during public health emergencies?