‘Lack of national bioethics committee depriving Nigeria’s assistance from UNESCO, others’
(NABDA) has said that lack of a National Bioethics Committee (NABC) is depriving Nigeria’s access to different assistance from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and other member-states.
Head of Bioethics unit, NABDA, Dr. Chitu Womehoma Princewill, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at a stakeholders’ meeting for the harmonisation of the NABC framework and policy documents.
Princewill regretted that Nigeria was one of the member-states of UNESCO bioethics but has remained as an observer at the international bioethics committee meetings and the intergovernmental bioethics committee meetings due to lack of a national bioethics committee.
She said that the national bioethics committee was neither a committee to compete with the already established National Health Research Ethics Committee (NHREC) nor was it a committee to take over functions of existing ethics committees, but rather, it is a committee to act as an advisory body to the government of the federation and policy makers.
The unit head maintained that the NABC framework is all encompassing and would continue to expand as changes occur in the society, adding that with advances in science and technology, it cannot be restricted to one particular issue.
Princewill, who further said that the NABC would attend to all issues that are challenges to life, dignity and freedom of persons as it affects the nation and also proffer advice on how best to tackle the issues, added:
“Bioethics is not limited to just research or health ethics. It is all encompassing; it is multidisciplinary, and pluralistic. Therefore, it cannot be boxed in one discipline or outlook. Right now, we have issues of societal unrest all over the country, increase in intimate partner violence, cultural differences, gender discrimination and increase in rape.”
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, Bitrus Bako, noted that the universal declaration on bioethics affirmed that ethical issues raised by the rapid advances in science and their technological applications should be examined with due respect to the dignity of the person and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedom.
Bako stated that the primary aim of the declaration was to provide a universal framework of principles and procedures to guide member-states in the formulation of their legislations, policies or other instruments in the field of bioethics.
On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, noted that the harmonisation of the documents was crucial to the production of working documents for the soon to be inaugurated and established National Bioethics Committee in Nigeria.
Echono said: “We are all aware of the rapid changes in science and technology, medicine, biotechnology, and societal shifts. These changes promise a lot of positivity but not without some form of risks due to the almost frightening changes in our society due to the infiltration of foreign cultures and ideologies.”
He said there was need to re-examine the new forms of technologies and the rapid changes in the society in line with global best practices for the benefit of all.
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