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Bioethics and the Challenges to Its Growth in Africa

Author(s): Cletus T. Andoh

Journal: Open Journal of Philosophy
ISSN 2163-9434

Volume: 01;
Issue: 02;
Start page: 67;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Authenticity | African Communitarianism | Ethno-Ethics | Communitarian Bioethics | Professional Bioethics | Interdisciplinary Research | Biotechnology

Bioethics has now become a burgeoning interdisciplinary field of scholarly investigation which has in the past decades migrated from bedside consultations to public policy debates and wider cultural and social consultations that privilege all discourse about everyday life issues. It has made exponential progress in addressing moral issues in science, technology and medicine in the world. In spite of this progress, core bioethics issues, approaches and values are still exclusively Western dominated and largely foreign to most African societies. Although medical ethics has existed since the time of Hippocrates, in Africa, there is a noted sluggish growth and low prestige of ethics education as bioethics is not taught in most higher educational systems of learning, low understanding of its processes as researchers manifest a general lack of appreciation for bioethics and general ignorance characterize those involved in research about ethical practices. This is unfortunate, considering that various research that aim at finding solutions to the multiple problems affecting African societies and the need to address and assess these problems in ethical terms are of crucial importance to Africans. In this work, I argue that Africa lacks human, institutional, infrastructural capacities and a real African authenticity in bioethics. Additionally, African views on bioethics are neither sufficiently developed nor heard. Africans need to confront these current challenges of bioethics to their lives and communities and to develop African conceptions to incorporate African specificities and approaches.
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