This guidance document on ethical issues that arise specifically in the context of infectious disease outbreaks aims to complement existing guidance on ethics in public health. It should therefore be read in conjunction with more general guidance on issues such as public health surveillance, research with human participants, and addressing the needs of vulnerable populations. Setting up decision-making systems and procedures in advance is the best way to ensure that ethically appropriate decisions will be made if an outbreak occurs.

Countries, health-care institutions,international organizations and others involved in epidemic response efforts are encouraged to develop practical strategies and tools to apply the principles in this guidance document to their specific settings, taking into account local social,cultural, and political contexts. WHO is committed to providing countries with technical assistance in support of these efforts.