Who is the guardian of our own health? Individual and social responsability for health

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Most people believe they have a duty to promote and protect the health of the population and treating the sick in case of medical need. And many also believe each person have a responsibility to his/her own health. Both beliefs can lead to a conflict of values with social and political implications. If people sick from individual choices (or unhealthy lifestyles), should we offer them a lower priority in access to health resources? The most popular example to refer to this situation is that of the diseases associated with smoking, but it is extensible to any disease that originates in a voluntary choice of the patient, as the abandonment of the medication, the practice of sport or unsafe sex, or the lack of preventive measures against influenza. In such cases, you still prevailing social responsibility? My ans-wer is yes. In this article, I argue that social responsibility for the health of the population prevails even if morally can and must empower people about their health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-580
JournalRevista Espanola de Salud Publica
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Bioethics
  • Equity in health
  • Equity in the resource allocation
  • Ethics
  • Health inequalities
  • Public health ethics
  • Social inequity
  • Social responsibility


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