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Ethical framework for COVID-19 response in the Arab region: views and recommendations from the experts

06/05/2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic has put states, public health systems, economies, societies, communities, and individuals under utmost pressure, many questions have arisen about the norms and criteria that could guide sound decision-making process in response to the emergency.

In as much as the COVID-19 is a “global health” challenge, it indeed also raises fundamental and difficult questions pertaining to human rights, social justice, codes of ethics, and environmental ethics. The Arab States region is no exception to this challenge.

As stated by the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (IBC) and the UNESCO World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), “a bioethics and ethics of science and technology perspective, rooted in human rights, should play a key role in the context of this challenging pandemic”.[1] In this context, UNESCO considers it is vital to provide solid grounds for collective reflections on some of the following ethical and social dimensions, pertaining both to the medical treatment, and to the prevention and containment policies put in place by various states.

Just as a “whole-of-society” and “urgent” action is required, “multidisciplinary” analysis and recommendations are also key to understand and address the pandemic itself, plan the de-confinement, as well as to reflect on lessons learned for a post-COVID society over the medium and long terms.

  1. “The toughest triage during Covid-19 pandemic, Prof. Michel Daher, Secretary General, Lebanese National Consultative Committee on Ethics, Lebanon
  2. “Communication in times of Public Health Crisis and Pandemic Times”, Prof. Aziz Qmichchou, Professor of Philosophy, Moulay Ismail University, Morocco
  3. "Ethique environnementale au temps du COVID-19",  Prof. Farida Khammar, Professeur /Directeur de Recherches en Biologie, Algérie
  4.  “Autonomy and Responsibility”, Prof. Bahaa Darwish, Professor of Philosophy, Al Minia University and UNESCO IBC Member, Egypt
  5. “La santé: un bien commun”, Prof. Mohamed Salah Ben Ammar, Anesthetist and Resuscitator, Tunisia
  6. “Autonomy and Responsibility”, Prof. M. Zuhair Alkawi, Director, Research Ethics Monitoring Office, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Saudi Arabia
  7.  “Women’s empowerment and engagement for their safety and well-being”, Prof. Hyam Bachour, Professor of Medicine, Al Sham Private University, Syria
  8. “Research Ethics Challenges In response to COVID -19 Pandemic”, Prof. Dina Shokry, Professor of Forensic Medicine and Clinical Toxicology, Cairo University, Egypt
  9. “Human Dignity and Treatment of Pandemics”, Prof. Ahmed Khitamy, Secretary General, Omani National Bioethics Committee, Oman
  10. “Managing Anxiety and Stigma”, Prof. Sami Richa, Member of National Consultative Committee on Ethics, Lebanon
  11.  "How to learn from COVID-19 for Climate Change?”, Dr. Ghaiath Hussein, Assistant Professor of Bioethics, Sudan
  12.  “Autonomy, Restriction of Freedom, and Solidarity”, Dr. Salwa Hamrouni, Professor of Law at the University of Tunis, Tunisia
  13. Maximizing the benefits and minimizing the harm”, Prof. Abdulkarim Almakdama, Professor of Pediatrics, Adolescents’ Health and Biomedical Ethics, Palestine
  14. Most vulnerable people and public actions“, Prof. Samar Abdelazam, Professor of Forensic Medicine, Ain Shams University, Egypt
  15. “The need for effective communication during Covid-19 pandemic”, Prof. Sonia Azab, Associate Professor of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, UNESCO Bioethics Chair, Ain Shams University, Egypt
 


[1] STATEMENT ON COVID-19: ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS FROM A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE, Statement of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (IBC) and the UNESCO World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), 26 March 2020, https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000373115