Ethical Principles in Health Care—EPIHC

Share this page
Share this page

Read in Chinese | 中文表達

IFC, in collaboration with the World Bank, embarked on an initiative to develop Ethical Principles in Health Care (EPIHC), due to the significance of ethical considerations in the provision of health care services, and the potential for improvements in access, quality and health outcomes through their broad application.

Context

The World Bank Group has adopted the twin goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity. To help achieve these goals, the World Bank Group supports Universal Health Coverage, aiming to ensure that people have access to the health care they need without suffering financial hardship. Access to high-quality, affordable health care is the foundation for individuals to lead productive and fulfilling lives and for economies to develop the human capital they need to grow. The private sector has an important role to play in achieving these goals. Promoting ethical conduct is essential to ensuring the private sector contributes to stronger health systems. Although many health care organizations strive to operate according to the highest ethical standards and make a positive contribution to society, some do not. Unfortunately, some aspects of the health care sector can incentivize unethical practices. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), in collaboration with the World Bank, embarked on an initiative to develop Ethical Principles in Health Care (EPIHC), due to the significance of ethical considerations in the provision of health care services, and the potential for improvements in access, quality and health outcomes through their broad application. The EPIHC are a set of 10 concise, pragmatic and universally applicable shared values/core beliefs to promote ethical conduct, and to help guide the decision making of organizations participating in private health care provision.

Relevance

Health care providers operate in a highly complex, ever evolving, health care landscape. The intention is that the EPIHC could provide a compass to help them navigate this difficult terrain. The aim is that this guidance may help providers make a stronger contribution to the lives of their patients, their staff, the environment, and the communities they serve. For a private health care provider, ethical and responsible conduct is not only important for global health goals and public relations, it is also a necessary element of performance and risk management. The consequences of poor ethics or standards can be disastrous. The reputation of a health care organization is critical for attracting patients, retaining staff, and providing long-term stakeholder value.

Approach

The approach to developing the EPIHC was targeted, broadly consultative, and iterative, involving a diverse group of investors, providers, experts, and civil society stakeholders in informing the final product in aggregate without individual attributions.

Adoption

It is expected that private health care providers would voluntarily commit to follow the principles and that health care investors would expect their health care investees to follow the principles. The EPIHC are designed to be relevant to all sizes of organizations, business models, and geographies. They will guide ethical practice expectations and decision-making, rather than creating specific laws or performance standards. Private health care providers and their investors are encouraged to publicly adopt, support, and reference EPIHC in their work, as well as to monitor the EPIHC usage and exchange good practices in their application. IFC disseminates and supports the EPIHC. It has tools and resources available that may assist organizations in implementing the EPIHC including, for example, IFC’s Healthcare Quality Assessment tool. IFC is also developing a supplementary EPIHC guidance document to assist EPIHC adopters to better understand the principles and how to instill them within their organizations.

Implementation

High ethical standards in the health sector are important for improving the lives of people around the world. Private health care organizations have a vital role to play in promoting such standards. These principles represent an important step toward codifying the types of behaviors and values expected. Therefore, we invite ethical and like-minded health care organizations to adopt the EPIHC. For some organizations these will represent a first step toward codifying such principles and for others they will complement existing corporate codes and statements.

Contact Us

EPIHCteam@ifc.org