Bioethicon 2020 was organised by the MOSC Institutional Ethics Committee, MOSC Medical College, Kolenchery, Kerala on 11th January 2020. The venue was the Conference Hall, MOSC Medical College and there were 180 participants comprising medical students, members from other ethics committees, interested clinicians and medical college faculty. Dr. Sumana Navin, Course Director, MOHAN Foundation, was invited to speak on ‘Ethical issues in organ donation and transplantation.’
In his inaugural address, the Chief Guest Justice P. Mohandas, Former State Human Rights Commissioner, Kerala stressed the need for an inner conscience to guide oneself ethically. The other dignitaries present at the inauguration were Dr. K. K. Diwakar, Dean, Dr. Jeeji Palocaren, Associate Dean, Dr. Madhusudanan M S, Chairman, MOSC Institutional Ethics Committee, Dr. Sandhya Kurup, Member Secretary, MOSC Institutional Ethics Committee and Dr. Anne Varghese, Organising Secretary, Bioethicon 2020.
The first session was ‘Preventive health care in liver disease – unfolding an ethical dilemma and a vision for future’ by Dr. Anand Bharathan, Consultant Surgeon, HPB Surgery, Sri Ramakrishna Hospital, Coimbatore. He said that alcoholic liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) were lifestyle diseases in which there was great scope for prevention. He added that individual attitudes, policies of the state on sale of alcohol and unhealthy food, and vaccination for hepatitis B were areas where one could attempt to change the course of liver disease prevention in India. The next session was on ‘Moral reasoning and principles of bioethics’ by Dr. Mala Ramanathan, Faculty, AMCHSS, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, and Working Editor, Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. She said that moral reasoning was a set of ethical norms that governed research with human subjects. The session started with a discussion of two case studies. One case study was on a treatment for central nervous system conditions and the other was an observational study of cervical cancer. The case studies helped the students distinguish between the need for considerations of ethics in research from clinical practice. The third session was ‘The health care provider’s duty of care: errors of omission and commission’ by Padma Shri Dr. M. R. Rajagopal, Chairman, Pallium India who emphasised that a doctor’s duty first and foremost was to mitigate suffering and offer comfort.
The afternoon session was kick-started by Dr. K. V. Kishore Kumar, Director, The Banyan, Chennai who spoke about ‘Ethical issues in Mental Health.’ He narrated the story of The Banyan and what underpinned its work –mental health is a social justice issue. This was followed by Dr. Sumana Navin’s presentation on ‘Ethical issues in organ donation and transplantation.’ She presented case studies and invited a ‘Students Ethics Committee’ from MOSC Medical College to discuss them keeping in mind the key principles of medical ethics – respect for autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. The last session on ‘Evidence-based ethics’ by Ms. Grishma Varghese summarised the key points when conducting a research study. She also spoke about evidence-based medicine (EBM).
The conference ended with feedback from the participants and valedictory function.