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The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Health Law addresses some of the most critical issues facing scholars, legislators, and judges today: how to protect against threats to public health that can quickly cross national borders, how to ensure access to affordable health care, and how to regulate the pharmaceutical industry, among many others. When matters of life and death literally hang in the balance, it is especially important for policymakers to get things right, and the making of policy can be greatly enhanced by learning from the successes and failures of approaches taken in other countries. Where there are "common challenges" in law and health, there is much to be gained from experiences elsewhere. Thus, for example, countries that suffered early from the COVID-19 pandemic provided valuable lessons about public health interventions for countries that were hit later. Accordingly, the Handbook considers key health law questions from a comparative perspective.
In health law, common challenges are frequent. In addition to ones already mentioned, there are questions about addressing the social determinants of health (e.g., poverty and pollution), organizing health systems to optimize use of available resources, ensuring that physicians provide care of the highest quality, protecting patient privacy in a data-driven world, and properly balancing patient autonomy with the interest in preserving life when reproductive and end-of-life decisions are made.
This Handbook's wide scope and comparative take on health law are particularly timely. Economic globalization has made it increasingly important for different countries to harmonize their legal rules. Students, practitioners, scholars, and policymakers need to understand how health laws vary across national boundaries and how reforms can ensure a convergence toward an optimal set of legal rules, or ensure that specific legal arrangements are needed in particular contexts. Indeed, comparative analysis has become essential for legal scholars, and The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Health Law is the only resource that provides such an analysis in health law.