What is Bioethics?
Modern Bioethics began about fifteen years post World War Two in an attempt to 'humanise' medical education and practise. Medicine was considered a profession overly focused on scientific and technological advancements requiring specialized skills. As such, its 'caring' nature seemed to have lapsed. Bioethics aimed to reinstate this care by infusing human virtues and the humanities into health sciences.
Today, the field of inquiry of bioethics has moved on to assume much broader proportions. Bioethics is about health, and thus it is also about life and death. It is about our bodies, procreation and birth, suffering and well-being. Importantly, it considers who controls decisions about our health and to what extent such control (if any) is morally justifiable.
Bioethics is the study of morality by careful and systematic reflection on, and analysis of, moral decisions and behavior in the life-sciences. There is a special emphasis on justice and fairness, sensitivity and empathy, which addresses the human fears and concerns often experienced by patients.
Prominent issues facing bioethicists include those related to genetics, theories of human development, assisted reproductive technologies, dual loyalties, euthanasia and resource allocation in healthcare management.
The Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics
The Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics is a university-based centre committed to the values of justice, dignity, respect and freedom - both intellectual and academic.
Staff at the centre boast a wide range of expertise in ethics and they are deeply committed to furthering the discipline of bioethics in South Africa and internationally. Centre staff take pride in advising and consulting for policy makers at national and provincial level, as well as in programmes like Good Clinical Practise - and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
At national policy level, Centre staff provide advice and consultation in bioethics, human rights and health law for health sciences curricula, regulation, development and ethics in research for the country.
At an international level, centre staff contribute to programmes in UNESCO, the European Commission and The National Institutes of Health (US) to name but a few. Centre staff also contribute to the development of bioethics and research ethics capacity on the different African regions.
The Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics contributes to excellence in bioethics by: