Bioethics has been and will continue to be a key consideration during the COVID-19 crisis, as the pandemic has brought to light chronic injustices such as homelessness, and increases in discrimination and intimate partner violence.
Dr Mellissa Withers, USC Associate Professor (Clinical) and the director of the APRU Global Health Program, housed at the Institute on Inequalities in Global Health at USC, hosted a webinar on May 19th with five leading experts on ethical challenges relating to COVID-19. Over 1000 people signed up to participate.
The speakers delved into the need for durable measures to address long-standing inequities to accessing societal resources beyond the pandemic, and underscored the importance of ensuring populations particularly susceptible to disease, harm or injustice by infection control strategies are included in equitable ways that empower them and address their underlying determinants of health.
The session began with Dr Angus Dawson, Professor of Bioethics at the University of Sydney, who discussed difficult choices around resource allocation during the pandemic and Dr Leonardo de Castro, professor of Philosophy at the University of the Philippines, who focused on inequities faced by marginalized populations in the Philippines.
Additional speakers included Dr. María de Jesús Medina-Arellano, professor of law at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who focused on intimate partner violence (IPV); Dr. Calvin Wai-Loon Ho, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong, who discussed the need to protect vulnerable populations even as surveillance and contact tracing are important infection control strategies; and Dr. Jonathan R. Guillemot, professor of gerontology at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), Ecuador, who emphasized the importance of addressing misconceptions about the elderly in addressing COVID-19.
Marigrace Buendia, a USC undergraduate student in global health, when asked about her impressions stated, “I attended the APRU Webinar yesterday and I found it very insightful! I found the presentation regarding mass surveillance and privacy to be particularly intriguing, and I really took something away from what each speaker presented.”
This guided discussion provided an opportunity for sharing insights and identifying activities to effectively address key ethical issues through a multi-disciplinary and cross-regional approach.
Due to rising awareness of the range of issues related to the impact of COVID-19 on inequalities, a series of nine free weekly webinars, cohosted by APRU and IIGH, will begin on June 4th at 6pm Pacific Time. Topics will include country-wide responses, human rights, bio ethics, environmental decision making and current pandemic-related findings.
Visit https://www.apruplus.org/webinars to register for upcoming webinars and to review the slides or recording, visit https://apru.org/event/apru-global-health-working-group-webinar-bioethics-and-covid-19/.