Case Study

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You are a District Magistrate in a remote region with limited medical facilities. A severe disease outbreak has affected the area, and the central government has sent a limited supply of life-saving medicine that can treat the disease effectively. However, the quantity provided is not enough to cover the entire affected population. The situation is dire, and people’s lives are at risk. You receive pressure from local politicians and influential individuals to distribute the medicine to their constituencies and communities first. What ethical principles should you consider, and how would you handle the situation?



In this challenging situation, the following ethical principles should be considered:

1. Utilitarianism: Prioritize the distribution of the medicine to the areas with the highest number of affected individuals, aiming to save as many lives as possible.

2. Justice: Ensure fairness in the distribution of the medicine, considering factors like severity of the disease, vulnerability of the affected population, and geographical accessibility.

3. Integrity: Uphold moral and professional values, resisting any undue pressure or attempts of favoritism.


To handle the situation:

1. Consult with medical experts and local health authorities to identify the areas with the highest disease burden and those in urgent need of the medicine.

2. Create a transparent and objective criteria-based system for distribution, taking into account the severity of the outbreak in each area.

3. Prioritize areas with the highest number of affected individuals and vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, children, and pregnant women.

4. Communicate the distribution plan clearly to the public, explaining the rationale behind the decision-making process.

5. Engage with local politicians and influential individuals, explaining the ethical principles guiding the distribution and emphasizing the importance of prioritizing those most in need.

6. Monitor the distribution process closely to ensure that the medicine is reaching the intended beneficiaries and that there are no instances of corruption or unfair practices.

By applying these ethical principles and taking a fair and transparent approach, you can navigate this challenging situation while striving to save as many lives as possible and upholding the integrity of your position as a District Magistrate.

Prince Luthra (UPSC CSE AIR 577)

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