This is the first year that ‘Ethics’ is an official section at the American Public Health Association’s (APHAs) annual meeting as opposed to a ‘Special Interest Group,’ as it has been previously. To some it may seem a bit unnecessary to categorize ethics as its own entity within the public health sphere because ethics and social justice are always in the spirit of public health work. In contrast, deeming ethics as its own section in public health is critical to keeping such considerations at the forefront of our work.
At JSI, we strive to work to improve the health of underserved populations and communities, which in and of itself is a manifestation of beneficence towards fellow human beings. GSI mapping, genomics, and other data collection mechanisms are collating and quantifying new forms of data faster and with more specificity than ever before. With these vast strides and the increased availability of such tools, comes an increased responsibility to assure the populations and communities that we work with that initiatives focusing on implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and quality improvement are being conducted with the cultural competency and sensitivity they deserve.
With that in mind, it strikes me as timely that ethics has symbolically progressed from a special interest to a fully recognized & integral component to the field of public health at this year’s meeting. We have all found ourselves in this profession to try do good, and to do good in such a way that aligns with the beliefs and values of those populations and communities that we work with. Mark Twain says it best, “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” APHA has once again reminded us this year to keep doing right; to gratify some and to astonish everyone else.