Karachi Bioethics Group Meetings 2013

Host of the Year 2013 - Ziauddin Hospital, Keamari Campus

The Karachi bioethics group (KBG) was hosted by Ziauddin University (kemarri campus) in the year 2013 with Dr Bushra Shirazi as coordinator. A total of 6 meetings for the year were held with a theme of clinical ethics. The meetings were well attended by members coming from different institutes along with the faculty from the campus.

Amongst the activities for 2013, the KBG initiated a petition for de-weaponization. Initially, a blog was created but many people found it difficult to access the blog. To overcome this problem, a written petition was initiated and different members collected signatures from family, friends, colleagues, and lay people. A total of 5000 signature was collected and a cover letter and photocopied data was sent to the following individuals: the Chief Minister of Sindh, the Speaker of the Sind assembly, the IG Police Sindh, and the Chief Justices of Pakistan.

In 2013, the KBG website portal was moved from the Aga Khan University to the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplant. The reason for this was the increasing charges at AKU for the maintenance of the website. SIUT was providing this facility at nominal charges. With consent from Miss Huma, who is an employee of SIUT and works in the IT department, it was decided that the website would be managed by her. It was also agreed upon that the coordinator hosting the KBG of the concerned year will maintain the required updates to the website.

In addition, an initiative to formulate a booklet on “medical error” was suggested and a sub-group was formed. The idea was to create a booklet that would help medicine and allied personnel understand what medical errors are, and provide an approach to managing an event of error. Unfortunately due to clinical commitments, this project was unable to materialize.

A consistent agenda of the meetings has been a presentation of a clinical case or advertisements which aimed at a discourse on different practical issues one encounters. This activity leads to increasing awareness among participants and the reasons for the position people hold. Some of the areas discussed were “disclosure to the patient and who decides for patients who are unable to give consent” along with “What doctors believe is in the best interest of the patient versus what the family wants.”

Another area of discussion included HIV. The individual’s right of choice in marriage in such situations was discussed. It was also deliberated whether governmental policy should be applied to individuals who have HIV along with Thalassemia.

Moreover, the issue of advertisement by fertility clinics along with the selection of gender in offspring was another topic of discussion.

These topics created a healthy discussion and increased the awareness of the attendees. In the case of the issue of advertisement, a letter was sent to the clinic and the ethical concerns were highlighted following which a change was brought in the advertisement. The importance of these discussions on public forums was hence reinforced as public awareness of such concerns is urgently required.

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