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Lecture takes a look at healthcare provision to ‘haves and have-nots’

By Saeb Rawashdeh - Feb 23,2020 - Last updated at Feb 23,2020

Professor Robert Klitzman addresses issues of bioethics and genetic research on Wednesday at Columbia Global Centres in Amman (Photo courtesy of Columbia Global Centres)


AMMAN — Disparities between the “haves and have-nots” affect every society in today’s globalised world, argued a professor of psychiatry on Wednesday, tracing this concept into the field of healthcare, and specifically, bioethics.

Giving a talk titled “What is Bioethics, and Why is it Important Today?” at Columbia Global Centres in Amman, Robert Klitzman, a professor at Columbia University in New York, noted that bioethics is a field that examines ethical, legal and social implications of advances in biotechnology and biomedicine.

These issues, he said, are “increasingly prevalent across the globe”, and “very interdisciplinary”, as bioethics sits on the intersection of law, society, philosophy, medicine, public health, economics, religion and history. 

From the Code of Hammurabi to Arab mediaeval medicine, there is a history of civilisations attempting to incorporate moral norms into medicine, he noted.

“The problem is where healthcare fits in and how much healthcare an individual can enjoy,” Klitzman mused.

He highlighted debates about genetic engineering and inequity, as rich people will be able to afford a cure to diseases like breast cancer, while the poor won’t be able to do so, the scholar said.

Touching on genetics, Klitzman noted: “We came to basic ethical questions: What are people’s rights? If it’s my DNA, I should have say in what happens to it.”

“Participants must be able to stop treatment anytime,” the scholar added. 

Qualified doctors need to use appropriate research designs, he said, noting the need for a favourable risk-benefit ratio, and the importance of bioethics as a discipline that “helps researchers find the best solution”.


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