18th SUMMER COURSE IN BIOETHICS – Public Health, and Infectious Global Health Threats

18th SUMMER COURSE IN BIOETHICS – Public Health, and Infectious Global Health Threats

The 18th International Summer Course in Bioethics will take place from July 8 to 12, 2019 at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum at Via degli Aldobrandeschi 190 00165 Rome, Italy. The course, entitled Bioethics, Public Health, and Infectious Global Health Threats, is organized by the School of Bioethics with the collaboration of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights established at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and with the Università Europea di Roma. The course will take place immediately after the summer course of introduction to bioethics (July 1-5, 2019). The course will be offered in English and Italian. The summer course is one of the elective courses of the Licentiate in Bioethics and is valid for 3 ECTS credits. At the end of the course students who require the European credits ECTS take an evaluation test. Registration Deadline: July 8, 2019

Why this subject?

The lack of conceptual moral clarity in global health issues leads to indecision in real-life questions, and hinders effective collective actions. Before the 2016 outbreak of Zika, there was the 2014 outbreak of Ebola, the 2009 outbreak of H1N1, the 2003 outbreak of SARS and the 1970s outbreak of AIDS. The need for a clearly understood and a widely accepted ethical course of action in dealing with serious infectious global health threats has been repeatedly underscored.

Who should attend?

The course is open to all, but is of special interest for humanitarian aid workers (including those working with migrants); physicians, epidemiologists, health care workers, administrators, and managers; educators and professors; priests, religious, catechists and other pastoral agents; lawyers and jurists; law and policy makers; journalists, communicators and sociologists, as well as those who are interested in the cultural and social dynamics of our globalized world and wish to have informed criteria on cutting-edge global, bioethical, and social issues related to public health questions of international concern.

What will you learn?

The course offers an interdisciplinary study of infectious global health threats to better understand the challenges, the stakeholders, the laws, and policies applicable in this particular state of affairs. Participants will acquire the knowledge and skills to make an ethical assessment of infectious global health threats, in a way that takes into consideration the main stakeholders involved, as well as their different degrees of responsibilities. In addition, participants will be able to apply their knowledge and skills professionally in the fields of medicine, heath care, humanitarian assistance, global affairs, politics, law, sociology, communication, and education. The course is structure around the following question: How should we allocate different responsibilities among different stakeholders in order to facilitate political decision and lawmaking processes addressing infectious global health threats? In order to tackle this overall research question in a comprehensive yet coherent way, we will address these topics:

• Clarifying terminologies and mapping the field/framing the field: Why infectious? Why global? Why health threat?

• Understanding the challenge: scientific knowledge, statistics, best practices, laws and regulations on the most important infectious global health threats.

• Understanding the stakeholders: from individuals to state and non-state institutions

• What is expected of individuals? Ethical implications and personal responsibilities of patients.

• What is expected of health care workers? Ethical implications and responsibilities of health care workers and hospitals for the common good of patients.

• What does justice and ethics require of medical and pharmaceutical researchers? The ethical responsibilities of pharmaceutical transnational corporations.

• What does justice require of national governments? The common good, human dignity, and the human right to health care as guiding principles for crafting preventive, precautionary, and restrictive measures, as well as emergency actions and policies.

• What does global justice require of international NGOs? The principle of subsidiarity as a pivotal guiding principle of leadership in global health governance.

• What does global justice require of international organizations (like the UN and the WHO)? Global bioethics in global health governance: inspiring leadership and solidarity to uphold the global common good. How is this taught? The course is structured in lectures, Q&A sessions, seminars, film discussions, and interactive group activities. Professors of the School of Bioethics and other experts will participate as speakers and moderators of group dynamics.

Course Directors Prof. Francisco Ballesta LC / Prof. Alberto García

For further info: info.bioetica@upra.org

Follow this link to read the program in Italian.

Roboethics: Humans, Machines and Health

Roboethics: Humans, Machines and Health

Roboethics: Humans, Machines and Health is the title of the Workshop that will be on 25-26 February 2019 during the Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The goal of the Workshop is to provide updates on the characteristics of the technologies in the field of robotics: namely, through those who work on the ground, identify and shape the questions rising in the field from the anthropological and ethical point of view and propose some ethical criteria and possibly some recommendations, keeping alive the attention to the global dimension of the theme. First session (Monday 25, afternoon) will focus on state-of-the-art technologies and different approaches to robotics’ research and development. Second session (Tuesday 26, morning) will explore socio-anthropological implications, i.e., how robotics changes the ways of knowing and understanding the world, perceiving relationships, and understanding the body and social coexistence. Third session (Tuesday 26, afternoon) will address the ethical implications of robotics in the health sector.

Please note that this Workshop will be followed by the 2020 Assembly on Artificial Intelligence. The fields of robotics and artificial intelligence are distinct, but closely related. They both contain so much information and so many anthropological and ethical questions in themselves that we are dedicating two assemblies to these subjects. We hope that, by having two different assemblies dedicated to two different aspects of the larger field of robotic technologies in general, we can address the opportunities and challenges of these connected technologies in greater depth.

Source: http://www.academyforlife.va/content/pav/en/news/2018/humans–machines-and-health–workshop-2019.html

Germany looks into ultrasound age tests on unaccompanied minor refugees

Germany looks into ultrasound age tests on unaccompanied minor refugees

Calls for mandatory X-ray age tests on unaccompanied minor refugees were rejected last year by German doctors. As an alternative, the Health Ministry is now launching a €1-million study into ultrasound testing.

Young refugees walk in a hallway, backs to the camera
Age can have a huge implication on the future prospects of an asylum-seeker in Germany. In principle, unaccompanied minors — under the age of 18 and without family — cannot be deported. Upon their arrival in Germany, unaccompanied minors also have the right togo to school or start a training course immediately.

Debate in Germany over mandatory age checks on unaccompanied minor refugees has drifted on and off the agenda for months. In practice, tests to determine a refugee’s age currently differ from state to state. But discussions were brought to a halt last year when the German Medical Association (BÄK) rejected a proposal by the Health Ministry to introduce mandatory age checks using X-ray on ethical and medical grounds, calling it “an interference in their human welfare.”

Now, in the search for an alternative, German Health Minister Jens Spahn is pumping €1 million euros ($1.1 million) into a study to find out if ultrasound can be used to determine people’s age. A small, portable device, not much larger than a shoebox, has been developed by the Fraunhofer Institute.

“I can understand why doctors are reluctant to use X-rays when determining the age of young migrants,” said Spahn. “But we need to determine age. Because this has a bearing on the asylum process and — when there is doubt — on legal proceedings. That’s why we have to find a way to make this as minimally invasive as possible.”

Results of the €1-million study are due by the end of 2020.

Continuing reading: https://www.dw.com/en/germany-looks-into-ultrasound-age-tests-on-unaccompanied-minor-refugees/a-47161360

The birthplace of modern medicine

The birthplace of modern medicine

By Rossi Thomson

Padua, Italy, was at the forefront of a shift to scientific consciousness that allowed the real picture of human anatomy to emerge for the very first time.

From the 2nd Century AD to the end of the Middle Ages, it was an accepted tenet that monkeys had the inner workings quite like those of man. This was the anatomical point of departure established by the 2nd-Century Greek physician Claudius Galenus – commonly referred to as Galen – who at the time was the authority on all things medical in Western Europe and Byzantium. Yet due to religious, legal and cultural taboos, he had never systematically dissected human bodies. Instead, his writings and dissections of monkeys, specifically Barbary and rhesus macaques, guided the development and practice of medicine for around 1,400 years.

And then something ground-breaking happened.

A scientific revolution burst through the self-imposed limits of ancient knowledge. After human dissections being frowned upon for hundreds of years, in the 16th Century a shift to scientific research and observation allowed the real picture of human anatomy to emerge for the first time, paving the way for the practice of medicine we see today.

At the forefront of it all was one Italian city – Padua – and its university.

Padua has a rich artistic, religious and literary heritage. It’s best known as the setting of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and where Italian artist Giotto – recognised as the Father of the Renaissance – frescoed the Scrovegni Chapel with biblical scenes loaded with human emotions. What is most remarkable about this northern Italian city, though, is that it’s the cradle of modern medicine.

Medicine had been studied in Padua – once a free commune – for many centuries. This tradition was upheld when the University of Padua was founded in 1222. A renowned centre of the sciences, the University of Padua enjoyed unparalleled autonomy and religious tolerance even after it came under the rule of the Carrara dynasty during the 14th Century. When Padua was conquered by the Republic of Venice in 1405, the Venetians kept the university as the main educational hub of the Republic and managed it under the motto of Libertas docendi et investigandi (Freedom of teaching and researching).

Continuing reading: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20190203-the-birthplace-of-modern-medicine

How Silicon Valley Puts the ‘Con’ in Consent

How Silicon Valley Puts the ‘Con’ in Consent

Credit Molly Snee

If no one reads the terms and conditions, how can they continue to be the legal backbone of the internet?

By The Editorial Board
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

The average person would have to spend 76 working days reading all of the digital privacy policies they agree to in the span of a year. Reading Amazon’s terms and conditions alone out loud takes approximately nine hours.

Why would anyone read the terms of service when they don’t feel as though they have a choice in the first place? It’s not as though a user can call up Mark Zuckerberg and negotiate his or her own privacy policy. The “I agree” button should have long ago been renamed “Meh, whatever.”

The legal fiction of consent is blatant in the privacy scandal du jour. Both Google and Facebook have been paying people — including minors as young as 13 — to download an app that tracks nearly all their phone activity and usage habits.

Facebook advertised their app on services beloved by teens, like Snapchat and Instagram, seeking participants between the ages of 13 and 35. The sign-up process required minors to get parental consent. (How rigorous? Users simply had to scroll down and click on a check box.) In exchange for participating in what Facebook called a research project, each user received $20 a month, plus referral bonuses.

Similarly, Google’s Screenwise Meter app harvested user information in exchange for money. Google was a little more careful than Facebook, barring minors unless they were participating as part of a larger household.

It’s unlikely these children understood what they gave up by agreeing to use the app. And even if they’d received proper parental consent, their parents may not have understood what they were giving away on their child’s behalf.

But it wasn’t the predatory nature of these programs that prompted Apple to disable them on iPhones and iPads. Rather, Apple objected to how Google and Facebook had used a loophole to transmit customer data without having to go through Apple first.

In other words, it looks as though two tech giants and their armies of lawyers didn’t read the policy closely enough and violated Apple’s terms and conditions.

People are often startled by what they wind up giving away by clicking on the “yes” button. They are shocked to find when they connect their Spotify and Netflix accounts to their Facebook account that those streaming services gain access to their Facebook messages. They are confused and outraged by Facebook’s uncanny ability to recommend “friends” that the company shouldn’t really know about — say, a social worker’s client, a sperm donor’s biological child, a woman’s father’s mistress.

Data is powerful and can inform on us in unexpected ways. Companies learn all about you, but also all about your friends who haven’t signed up for these services. Consumers’ confusion about this gives rise to conspiracy theories that phone microphones are secretly snooping on users. According to academics who have done the research, that’s probably just paranoia. The likely truth is that all the other data you give away is enough to predict what you have said and will say in conversations.

Countless devices and internet services now pervade daily life. We don’t need to live in a world governed by their terms and conditions, propped up by the legal fiction of consent. If empowered and properly funded, the Federal Trade Commission can become the privacy watchdog that this era so desperately needs. And the repeal or modification of the Federal Arbitration Act can defang the very worst provision that so frequently pops up in terms and conditions — the surrender of the right to sue a company in court.

Legislation can mandate transparency about who has your data and can give users the right to stop it from being sold. New laws can lay down basic guarantees of privacy that won’t require you to wade through hundreds of thousands of words of legalese.

Europe is already leading the way with the General Data Protection Regulation. California has followed that example by passing a law with similar protections, scheduled to go into effect in 2020.

Americans deserve strong privacy protections. Consent is not enough to replace them. The clicks that pass for consent are uninformed, non-negotiated and offered in exchange for services that are often necessary for civic life. It’s time to start seeing the “I agree” button for what it really is.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/02/opinion/internet-facebook-google-consent.html

The Chinese scientist who claims to have edited baby DNA is downplaying reports that he is under house arrest. Here’s a timeline of the controversy.

The Chinese scientist who claims to have edited baby DNA is downplaying reports that he is under house arrest. Here’s a timeline of the controversy.

Peter Kotecki Jan. 14, 2019, 11:27 AM

In November 2018, a Chinese scientist claimed he had made the first genetically-edited babies in the world, causing sharp criticism from other scientists, ethicists, and government officials.

The scientist, He Jiankui, used the gene-editing tool CRISPR-cas9, which is considered risky because it can inadvertently change a large portion of a person’s DNA and have unintended consequences.

He, who worked on the experiment with US scientist Michael Deem, said he edited a gene called CCR5. The gene forms a “doorway” that allows HIV to enter cells, and turning it off makes people resistant to being infected in the future.

Even if everything went according to plan, the babies could be at greater risk of future health problems. The Associated Press reported that people without a regular CCR5 gene are more likely to catch the West Nile virus and die from the flu.

Many of He’s colleagues — including more than 120 Chinese scientists— have criticized He for choosing this route, saying there are plenty of ways to prevent HIV without putting someone in danger.

He has denied the twin girls were harmed.

Since November, He has became the subject of several investigations. Last week, several news outlets reported that he has been detained and may face the death penalty, though the scientist has reportedly said he is fine.

Take a look at this timeline explaining the controversy surrounding He’s research.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/timeline-chinese-scientist-claims-crispr-babies-2019-1?IR=T