BIOETHICS AND HUMAN DIGNITY: THE DEFINITION OF BIOETHICS, HUMAN DIGNITY AND ITS CONSEQUENCES ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN MEDICINE IN AFRICA

| November 26, 2018

The Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights[1] was adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Committee (UNESCO) in 2005. This declaration helps govern the respect for human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms as a result of arising ethical issues raised by medicine and life science. The International bioethics committee helps ensure that science is developed for the sake of humanity a social responsibility that scientist and researchers bear. While it may be clear what bioethics entails, the concept of Human Dignity may be somewhat unclear or problematic to define. This is due to the fact that the concept of human dignity is open to abuse in that it oversimplifies complex issues and encourages a form of paternalism incompatible with the very spirit of self-determination that lies at the heart of International Human Rights. However in its purest form, human dignity can be defined as that which is inherent to every human being by virtue of his or her humanness. It is the very respect for human beings simply because they are human beings. Thus it is imperative for the progression of science and knowledge to be aware of this fact with upcoming developments and technology.

As aforementioned, the social responsibility obligation bioethics ought to ensure is that modern science helps the progression of humanity. This is of special importance in Africa as it is now common practice to see modern medicine and facilities introduced from the Western world to help treat illnesses that are pertinent to the continent, such as Ebola, cholera, malaria and HIV amongst others. Further, healthcare facilities are often poorly equipped or the services provided are incompetent in many hospitals. Therefore, it is part of bioethics, in correlation with human dignity, to ensure that these new developments in modern medicine are safe for human use as well as ensuring that the disadvantaged health facilities in Africa are not the tester groups for these developments. This is due to the fact that without prior adequate testing, these modern developments could have grave consequences on the intended subjects. The social responsibility of bioethics could be viewed as a prerogative to scientist to ensure that such developments are safe and advance humanity whilst respecting human dignity.

[1] Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. (2005). Universal declaration on bioethics and human rights, UNESCO.