CFP: Ethics, Public Policy, and Health

Submission deadline: March 19, 2021

Conference date(s):
August 16, 2021 - August 22, 2021

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Ethics and Public Policy Laboratory, Catholic University of Central Africa
Yaoundé, Cameroon

Topic areas


We are pleased to announce the 6th annual Yaoundé Seminar, on the topic “Ethics, Public Policy, and Health."

*Please note that this seminar, originally scheduled for August 2020, was postponed one year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and will now be held August 16-22, 2021. We welcome inquiries for the postponed seminar. 

Jointly sponsored by: Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the Center for Bioethics (Harvard University), Center for Population-Level Bioethics (Rutgers University), McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society (Stanford University), Institute for Ethics, History and the Humanities (University of Geneva), Competence Center for African Research (University of St. Gallen), Université du Québec à Rimouski, and Ethics and Public Policy Laboratory (Catholic University of Central Africa).

Call: Health makes a significant contribution to what we can do and be in our lives. Today, equipped with knowledge about the medical, social, and behavioural determinants of health, we have an unprecedented opportunity to achieve healthy conditions of life for broad and diverse populations. Conversely, through inaction or inattention we risk adding to health and social inequalities that arise between individuals, groups, and states, leave populations less healthy than they otherwise ought to be. The policies that state-actors adopt with respect to health and health care have a key role to play in negotiating between these alternate futures. Yet even with the best intentions, public policymakers, particularly in developing nations, must grapple with complexities introduced by limited resources, weak institutions, global power structures, complex relationships with international and private health actors, and local traditions and values, in steering a course forward.

This situation raises several questions of ethics, public policy, and health: what do state actors owe their populations with respect to securing healthy conditions of life? How should public policies be structured to efficiently promote and fairly distribute population health? And how should the particular histories, cultures, values, institutions, partnerships, and socioeconomic realities of developing nations inform answers to these questions?

We invite contributions from different theoretical perspectives, and we plan to approach these questions both from the perspective of analytical political philosophy, ethics, rights-based frameworks, and from the perspective of non-Western traditions, e.g. African philosophy. Suggested topics include (this list is not meant to be exhaustive):

  • conceptualization of health, health inequity, and disease
  • justice in health and healthcare, ideal and non-ideal theory
  • the content and role of human rights for health
  • responsibilities of states, individuals and global actors in securing health for a population
  • limits to state power and respecting individual rights in population health policy
  • methods for ethical priority setting and rationing of scarce resources in health systems
  • moral obligations of those who work for the health sector
  • tensions between universal ethical ideals and culturally specific values in health
  • relevance of cultural diversity and values pluralism for ethical health policy
  • ethics of various health-relevant topics, e.g., social determinants of health, health system design, health innovation and technology, health workforce development and regulation, research regulation (including standards for studies/trials in African states), response to epidemics and pandemics, climate change, and economic development, etc.

Submission guidelines:

The Yaoundé Seminar organising committee invites PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and early career faculty at African and non-African Universities to submit abstracts (400-500 words) on themes related to the conference’s topic.  Graduate students finishing their Masters degree and planning to start a PhD will also be considered as auditors and should email us their CV along with their abstract.

Abstracts should be submitted via email to [email protected] , [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]  by MARCH 2021 (DEADLINE EXTENSION DUE TO COVID-19 SEMINAR POSTPONEMENT). Applications and presentations can be either in English or in French, but speaking French is not a requirement to attend the event. The keynote presentations will be in English. Applicants will be selected on the basis of the quality of their abstract and its alignment with conference themes, as well as potential to contribute productively to the seminar and to the development of their field. Abstracts will be reviewed on a rolling basis; apply early for eligibility for funding support. 

Funding Support:

Accepted participants must pay a fee of $400 (faculty and postdocs at non-African Universities),  $300 (students at non-African Universities), $150 (faculty and postdocs at African Universities), or $100 (students at African Universities) to cover the costs of accommodations, meals, and workshop materials, and must also pay for their own travel to Yaounde (Cameroon).

A limited number of fee waivers and travel scholarships are available for scholars from African Universities and on the basis of need. Applicants should indicate their suitability for a waiver/scholarship in their application materials.

For more information: [email protected]

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