Corruption is not a chapter heading in most bioethics textbooks. But a passionate article in a recent issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggests that it is fundamental. “If bioethicists are now the guardians of medical ethics, how is it that they have nothing to say about medical corruption?” ask two American and one Indian bioethicists.
The springboard for their call to action was the election of Ketan Desai as president of the World Medical Association in 2010 after he had been removed as president of the Indian Medical Association for corruption not once, but twice. How could this have happened? “Is biomedical ethics just casual talk? Is it merely medical etiquette, philosophical window dressing, full of empty rituals and little substance? Do doctors take ethics seriously?” the authors ask.
“Do philosophers and bioethicists find it more important and/or intellectually satisfying to solve esoteric puzzles – like, for example, the moral status of a part-human-part-animal embryo – rather than taking on ‘dull’ issues like poverty, health inequality or medical corruption?”
The authors hope that the World Congress of Bioethics, which meets in Rotterdam later this month, will provide a forum for discussing the issue. Corruption kills, they contend. It is one of the reasons why it has been so difficult to reach the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals – intended to reduce poverty by half by 2015. ~ Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, April
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