Pandemic Preparedness: The Need for a Public Health-Not a Law Enforcement/National Security-Approach [open pdf - 711KB]
"The spread of a new, deadly strain of avian influenza has raised fears of a potential human pandemic. While the virus is not easily transmissible to humans, were it to mutate to be more highly contagious to or between humans-a possibility whose probability is unknown-an influenza pandemic could occur. Government agencies have an essential role to play in helping to prevent and mitigate epidemics. Unfortunately, in recent years, our government's approach to preparing the nation for a possible influenza pandemic has been highly misguided. Too often, policymakers are resorting to law enforcement and national security-oriented measures that not only suppress individual rights unnecessarily, but have proven to be ineffective in stopping the spread of disease and saving lives. The following report examines the relationship between civil liberties and public health in contemporary U.S. pandemic planning and makes a series of recommendations for developing a more effective, civil liberties-friendly approach. Rather than focusing on well-established measures for protecting the lives and health of Americans, policymakers have recently embraced an approach that views public health policy through the prism of national security and law enforcement. This model assumes that we must 'trade liberty for security.' As a result, instead of helping individuals and communities through education and provision of health care, today's pandemic prevention focuses on taking aggressive, coercive actions against those who are sick. People, rather than the disease, become the enemy."
2008 American Civil Liberties Union.
American Civil Liberties Union: http://www.aclu.org/