Center for Interdisziplinary Research

ZiF Research Group Workshop

Closing Conference: Public Health Theory and Practice: Expanding the Normative Framework

Date: 16 - 18 October 2014

Convenors: Stefan Huster (Bochum, GER), Thomas Schramme (Hamburg, GER)

The citizens‘ health and the social distribution of health within the population do not only depend on the access to the medical care system and the level of health care services, it is largely determined by social factors. But how to evaluate health inequalities within the population that are specific to a particular social stratum? Are paternalistic interventions into the citizens‘ health-related behaviour justified? Is health equality actually a topic of public health theory or is it rather considered a burden and more than it can deal with? During the past year, the research group has looked into the problem how to combine the internationally quite advanced academic discussion of these questions with findings obtained in Germany. On the closing conference, the results of this work will be presented and discussed with international experts. Central to this are, first, the concept of health justice developed on the basis of Rawls‘ theory of justice; second, approaches essentially worked out by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in Great Britain also formulating policy-related normative recommendations; third, the discussion-line based on the Capability Approach and, fourth, approaches that explicitly use economic considerations, too, when normative questions of public health are concerned. In addition, the normative evaluation of specific public health measures – already practiced in other countries much more intense than here – could actually stimulate the discussion decisively. Apart from an intra-disciplinary discussion about normative aspects of public health care, the research group aims at making clear that public health policy requires intensive academic follow-up monitoring and reflection in terms of scientific standards. As with the opening conference, the closing conference will be preceded by a public panel discussion intended to further bring forward the science-politics dialog, entitled: ‚Prevention Policies in Germany – Current Status and Perspectives‘. The process of the relevant law-making procedure clearly indicates that a lot of questions remain to be settled, until the project to support and strengthen disease prevention and health promotion in Germany through a Prevention Act may be implemented.

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