The 14th World Congress of Bioethics of International Association of Bioethics and the 7th National Bioethics Conference of Indian Journal of Medical Ethicswas held from 5th – 7th December 2018 at St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bengaluru.It was co-organised by Forum for Medical Ethics Society (FMES), Sama Resource Group for Women and Health, St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences, and Society for Community Health Awareness Research and Action (SOCHARA).
The theme was Health for All in an Unequal World: Obligations of Global Bioethics and it sought to strengthen bioethics in the context of health for all, by providing a relevant and critical platform to advance bioethics discourses and inform praxis - policies, programmes, guidance in the region and globally. Around 800 delegates from different parts of the globe participated in the congress.
The five sub-themes around which intensive plenaries were organised were as follows:
The following abstracts from MOHAN Foundation were presented at the congress by Dr. Sumana Navin, Course Director and Sujatha Suriyamoorthi, Manager – Information Systems:
1. Should soliciting for organs be allowed through social media. Authors: Dr. Sunil Shroff, Pallavi Kumar, Dr. Sumana Navin. Accepted for Rapid Round presentation (presented by Dr. Sumana Navin).
2. Influence of extended family in decision making in donating organs – Ethical Dilemmas. Authors: Sujatha Suriyamoorthi, Dr. Sumana Navin. Accepted for Rapid Round presentation (presented by Sujatha Suriyamoorthi).
3. Offering organ transplants to foreigners in India - Is this ethically challenging? Authors: Dr. Sumana Navin, Dr. Sunil Shroff. Accepted for Poster presentation (presented by Dr. Sumana Navin).
Mrs. Lalitha Raghuram, Country Director chaired a parallel track on End of life care ethics that examined topics like Withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment: ethically equivalent?, The ethics of treatment withdrawal after severe brain injury, Health for All? A medicolegal analysis of paediatricians’ end-of-life decision making for disabled children in the United Kingdom among others.
One of the highlights of the congress was the screening of the film ‘Dr. M. R. Rajagopal - Hippocratic –– 18 experiments in gently shaking the world.’ Dr. Rajagopal has been called the Father of Palliative Care in India. He emphasised that when someone has a serious illness with significant pain or other suffering, and even if death is inevitable, most of his suffering can be avoided with palliative care. Another highlight was a unique exhibition called ‘The Dolls Speak’ by Francoise Bosteels. It featured handmade dolls accompanied by poems and stories that brought out the inequities in various spheres of life in a hard-hitting and poignant manner. Jane Sahi, one of the writers, said that, “The viewer is invited to move beyond the boundaries of what is known and to enter into another’s world of pain or joy, struggle of finding. We begin to see that an active responsibility for the environment is interwoven with our own growth as individuals who are part of an ever-widening community.”