Vol 15, Iss 2 – April 2023

We are proud to present our April 2023 issue, the second issue of this year’s volume 15.

In his paper exploring the public health response to COVID-19 in Vietnam, Đoàn Thanh Hải examines the human rights impacts that have been felt as a direct result of the Vietnamese government’s particular strategy for dealing with the pandemic. A central feature of that strategy was a policy of decentralisation and delegation of power to local authorities to implement public health measures. While this was effective in practical terms in dealing with infection and containment, it led to inconsistencies of approach across the country and to a range of potential threats to human rights for Vietnamese citizens. The author maps the trickle-down effects of this approach through the lens of international human rights and calls for better training on this; he also advocates for better supervision of the operationalisation of decentralisation, especially in times of public health emergency.

In contrast to the Vietnamese experience, Dar and Wani examine the wide-spread privacy implications that have been felt in India as a result of the Indian government’s attempts to keep COVID-19 at bay. A series of strictly centralised executive policies that prioritised emergency response over citizens’ civil liberties led to wide-spread surveillance of Indians. Impacts were significantly compounded by the lack of any adequate legal framework of protection that meant that human rights of privacy and liberty were widely disregarded or seriously compromised. The ripple effect of such measures continues to be felt within the legal void that remains. The authors use case studies and secondary data to explore the longer-term privacy implications of this untenable situation.

Against the backdrop of the global phenomenon of biobanking, Azahar, Mohd Yusof, and Azhar offer insights into approaches to, and understandings of, the role of consent to biobanking in Malaysia. The study reveals a lack of understanding among many participants concerning the wider ethical, legal and social features that pertain to biobanking as a research endeavour. Five areas of concern are explored, and the authors ultimately recommend more systematic research ethics training for all researchers. They highlight, however, that at present there is no centralised or standardised approach in Malaysia; any training initiative must come from the local institutional level, and this returns us to the challenges of decentralisation highlighted by Doan above. Equally problematical, there is no national syllabus on research ethics; this leads to variability in training and unacceptable lack of uniformity of approach in Malaysia.

This last point serves as a valuable segue to our next article, which is concerned with medical education in India. Ganguly, D’Souza, and Nunes also deploy empirical methods to examine the experiences of a new module on Attitude, Ethics and Communication introduced for all undergraduate medical students in 2019 as part of the Competency Based Curriculum of the Indian National Medical Commission. While there has been wide-spread consensus about the need to teach medical ethics in an integrated fashion, the reported experiences of teachers and students show mixed reception and perceptions on both sides. Resources are a crucial issue for all involved, both to teach and to learn. The authors suggest that much more work is required to move towards a standard model for medical education in India. Lessons from the previous article would suggest further that training on research ethics would make a valuable addition to any such model.  

Our next article takes is a response to recent work engaging on the (im)morality of abortion, and a revisiting of the classic defence of abortion laid out by Jarvis Thomson. In his article, William Simkulet seeks to fortify the original position laid out by Jarvis Thomson in arguing that even if the killing of a foetus is immoral, this is trumped by the right of women to have access to abortion services. The particular context for the discussion is recent work by Perry C. Hendricks based on the impairment argument and in which he lays out his argument why abortion is wrong. Simkulet offers three reasons to challenge that position and to engage directly with the impairment argument itself.

Mohd Zailani, Hamdan, and Mohd Yusof explore the nature of haram in Islamic faith as it applies to the use of human-pig material for organ transplantation. Basing the discussion on extant Islamic legal maxims about the forbidden nature of using pig derivates in medicine, the authors apply this jurisprudence to bioethical considerations, particularly in the context of a medical emergency. The analysis suggests that while the forbidden nature of human-pig chimeric material must endure for followers of Islam, possible exceptions can be justified within Islamic bioethics and in the event of emergency situations.

Finally, Pougnet, Derbez, and Troadec seek to map the changing nature of ethical discussions and debate relating to genome editing, particularly as typified by more recent developments such as CRISPR-Cas9. The discussion reveals an intricate tapestry of interwoven ethical concerns over time, first prioritising safety issues and uncertainty concerning future generations, and then moving on to the likelihood of benefits and residual concerns if safety could be adequately addressed. Perhaps most telling, the analysis also engages with issues that have received far less attention, including stigmatisation, justice, and equal access.

Our publisher Springer Nature allows you to read all articles online for free, even if you do not have a subscription to ABR – simply click on the title. Additionally:

  • Free2Read articles can be downloaded and printed as well, if you have a subscription.
  • Free or Open Access articles can be downloaded and printed, even without a subscription.
  • Our articles since 2018 are also accessible via PubMed Central (PMC), where they become Free Access after 12 months.

The copyright of Free2Read and Free Access articles is shared by Springer Nature and the National University of Singapore. The copyright of Open Access articles remains with the respective authors.

Editorial – Free Access
Ethics and Evidence: Mapping New Paths Through Bioethical Controversies
Graeme T. Laurie
April 2023 – 15(2): 99 – 101– doi: 10.1007/s41649-023-00246-5

Original Article – Open Access
The Public Health Response to COVID-19 in Vietnam: Decentralization and Human Rights
Thanh Hải Đoàn
April 2023 – 15(2): 103-123 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00226-1

Original Article – Free Access
COVID-19, Personal Data Protection and Privacy in India
Mohamad Ayub Dar, and Shahnawaz Ahmad Wani
April 2023 – 15(2): 125-140 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00227-0

Original Article – Open Access
A Preliminary Study to Explore the Informed Consent Approach and the Ethical Challenges in the Malaysian Biobanking for Research
Amnah Azahar, Aimi Nadia Mohd Yusof, and Zahir Izuan Azhar
April 2023 – 15(2): 141-154 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00229-y

Original Article – Free Access
Challenges in Teaching Learning Process of Newly Implemented Module on Bioethics in Undergraduate Medical Curriculum in India
Barna Ganguly, Russel Dsouza, and Rui Nunes
April 2023 – 15(2): 155-168 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00225-2

Original Article – Free2Read
Three Problems with the Impairment Argument
William Simkulet
April 2023 – 15(2): 169-179 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00228-z
Free Access from 1 April 2024 via PMC10076469

Perspective Article – Free Access
Human-pig Chimeric Organ in Organ Transplantation from Islamic Bioethics Perspectives
Muhammad Faiq Mohd Zailani, Mohammad Naqib Hamdan, and Aimi Nadia Mohd Yusof
April 2023 – 15(2): 181-188 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00233-2

Perspective Article – Free2Read
Mapping the “ethical” controversy of human heritable genome editing: A multidisciplinary approach
Richard Pougnet, Benjamin Derbez, and Marie-Bérengère Troadec
April 2023 – 15(2): 189-204 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00234-1
Free Access from 1 April 2024 via PMC10076464


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