Author: Napoleon M. Mabaquiao, Jr.

Research Article

Year: 2021, Volume 21 Number 1 

Pages: 197 – 212


Public health crises, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic that the world is currently experiencing, highlight two undeniable truths, among others. One is the value of health and healthcare, which is necessary for our survival, well-being, and access to some of life’s opportunities. The other is the scarcity of most healthcare resources. As everybody’s healthcare needs will not be satisfied, misfortunes in the form of suffering, loss of opportunities, or death are bound to occur. In the face of such realities, the issue of justice in healthcare, which inquires into what makes healthcare resource allocations fair, becomes a serious moral concern. This essay critically examines two philosophical approaches to this issue: the utilitarian approach, which aims to promote our greatest overall welfare, and the fair equality of opportunity approach, which aims to promote equality in our access to life’s normal range of opportunities. Despite their differences and challenges, it is shown that they can be combined to form a more comprehensive account of justice in healthcare and, consequently, serve as a practical moral framework for drafting or evaluating prioritization guidelines for allocating scarce healthcare resources in a COVID-19 pandemic. 

Keywords: justice, healthcare, equality of opportunity, utilitarianism, pandemic, COVID-19