Antimicrobial Resistance, One Health Interventions and the Least Restrictive Alternative Principle

Public Health Ethics:phae004 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is increasingly recognised as a threat to human, animal and environmental health. In an effort to counter this threat, several intervention plans have been proposed and implemented by states and organisations such as the WHO. A One Health policy approach, which targets multiple domains (healthcare, animal husbandry and the environment), has been identified as useful for curbing AMR. Johnson and Matlock have recently argued that One Health policies in the AMR context require special ethical justification because of the so-called least restrictive alternative principle. This article analyses and rejects two assumptions that this argument relies on. The first assumption is that One Health policies are generally more restrictive than their alternatives because they target more domains and impact more people. The second assumption is that the least restrictive alternative principle has a special normative importance in that it establishes a systematic presumption in favour of the least restrictive policy options. Once these assumptions are rejected, the use of One Health policies on AMR can be justified more easily than Johnson and Matlock argue.

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Davide Fumagalli
University of Gothenburg

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