Rationing health and social goods during pandemics: guidance for Ghanaian decision makers

Abstract

Healthcare rationing during pandemics has been widely discussed in global bioethics literature. However, existing scenarios and analyses have focused on high income countries, except for very few disease areas such as HIV treatment where some analyses related to African countries exist. We argue that the lack of scholastic discourse, and by extension, professional and democratic engagement on the subject constitute an unacceptable ethical omission. Not only have African governments failed to develop robust ethical plans for pandemics, ethicists in this region have been unable to ignite public discourse on rationing. Therefore, we aim to initiate a debate on how rationing health and social goods could be done ethically in Ghana during the current and future pandemics.

The paper discusses and critiques some moral considerations (utilitarian, equity, equal worth, urgent need, and the prioritarian principles) for rationing and their relevance in the Ghanaian context. This contribution may facilitate ethical decision-making during COVID-19 in Ghana and other African settings where hardly any rationing guidelines exist