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Drawing on key examples from Australia, the Western Pacific and South east Asia regions, with some reference to other regions of the world, this subject examines how the law may be used as a tool to improve public health and prevent illness and disease. It also considers how laws may negatively impact the public’s health if not carefully crafted. In Public Health Law, students will develop specialised knowledge of the legal basis for public health regulation and of particular domestic laws that are relevant to a variety of critical contemporary public health issues. They will also examine the role of domestic law in relation to global public health issues and international law. The subject will complement the Melbourne Law Masters subject Global Health Law, but it is also intended to be studied independently and no prior knowledge will be assumed. Specific areas of public health concern that will be considered include communicable diseases; family health, gender and the life course; health system strengthening and universal health care; health security and emergency responses; and non-communicable diseases. The subject will also examine the law’s reach and limits noting other tools that play a vital role in achieving public health.
Principal topics include:
- What is public health law?
- The law in context:
- Communicable diseases
- Immunisation and vaccines
- Health security and emergency response
- Surveillance and outbreaks (alert and response, International Health Regulations (IHRs))
- Emergency and humanitarian responses
- Gender, equity and human rights
- Maternal and reproductive health
- Healthy ageing
- Access to health services
- Access to medicines/therapeutic goods
- ‘Life-style’ diseases and the law
- Substance abuse
- Disability and injury prevention
- Family health, gender and the life course
- Health system strengthening and universal health coverage
- Non-communicable diseases.
- Communicable diseases
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has completed this subject should:
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the role of the law as a tool to improve public health
- Demonstrate in-depth understanding of the law's application, and operation in relation, to public health issues and its interaction with other public health tools to achieve positive public health outcomes
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of public health laws and regulatory responses to modern public health challenges
- Have undertaken advanced legal research and analysis of public health issues, demonstrating an ability to generate suggestions for public health laws and policies that may serve to improve the public's health and prevent illness, injury and/or disease
- Demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and advanced learner in the field of public health law.
Last updated: 10 November 2023