25.07.2012 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

Assisting Bioethics Committees in Africa: a second training session well attended in Gabon

© Flickr / Gabon, Africa Endeavor 2010 - US Army Africa

Many journalists from print media, radio and television were present, this Monday 23 July 2012, in Libreville (Gabon), at the opening of the second training session of the Bioethics Committee of Gabon, also attended by government officials.

To sensitize the local population about bioethical issues currently at stake in Gabon and explain the importance of the mandate of the new Gabonese Bioethics Committee, a press conference will be organized every evening until the closure of the training on 27 July. A roundtable discussion also took place in the evening of Wednesday 25 July, before the cameras of Radio Television Gabon (RTG), with the participation of two international experts and the UNESCO representative involved in this training, as well as the Chairman of the National Ethics Committee for Research in Gabon (NRAC), the Chairman of the Medical Association of Gabon and the Gabonese Director General of the Minstry of Finance under the supervision of which the National Bioethics Committee in Gabon has been placed.

Part of UNESCO's “Assisting Bioethics Committees” (ABC) project, this 2nd training, held at the request of the government of Gabon, will focus entirely on applications of the bioethics principles included in the “Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights” (2005), to ensure the responsiveness of this new National Bioethics Committee.

This 5-day training will thus allow about thirty members of the Gabonese Committee, not only to get a comprehensive understanding of the internationally-agreed norms on Bioethics and Human Rights, but also to conduct situational analysis, to identify ethical dilemmas at the global level and in their country, and more specifically to learn the deliberative methodology used to deal with them.

Adapted to the realities of each country and the institutions that they choose to adopt to strengthen their national capacities in bioethics, the ABC project's intention is to allow recipient countries to address their needs. Implemented as part of UNESCO’s bioethics capacity building initiative, derived from the “Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights”, the project guides the countries in the development of their National Bioethics Committees (NBC) over a course of 3 years providing them with one training per year and a variety of resources.

Led by both UNESCO staff and international experts from among UNESCO’s partners, the content of the trainings rely on a series of guides that UNESCO has produced specifically for this aim, and also on the UNESCO Bioethics Core Curriculum, which is primarily designed around the internationally-agreed ethics standards but also around internationally-agreed human rights standards, while it acknowledges and invites local variation.

Special consideration is given to promoting gender equality in terms of the content of materials used for training and the development of the agendas and plans of the National Bioethics Committees. For the trainings, as well as for its capacity building initiative as a whole, UNESCO gives special consideration to addressing first African States, in line with demand.

The trainings for newly-created Committees have been conducted, and evaluated as successful, since 2008 in Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Jamaica, Kenya and Togo.

The first beneficiary country that has completed the 3 training cycle is Kenya (November 2011). Côte d’Ivoire should be the next by the end of 2012, period during which similar trainings will be also held in:

  • 1st session in Chad (1-3 August 2012);
  • 2nd session in Guinea (11-15 September 2012);
  • 2nd session in Ghana (12-16 November 2012); and
  • 1st session in Malawi (22-24 November 2012).

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