UNESCO Bioethics 11th World Conference

For the first time IFMSA was able to send a student task force to UNESCO Chair in Bioethics 11th World Conference Bioethics, Medical Ethics and Health Law. This Conference is being held from the 20-22.Oct 2015 in stunning Naples, a city which despite all the struggles it has been facing did remain human.

Here we are at the Royal Hotel in the capital of tasty Pizza, a group of twelve medical students from Brazil, The Netherlands, Indonesia, Poland, Switzerland, Canada, Portugal, Macedonia and Italy. The first working day started with a rainy walk to the conference, red fancy IFMSA-polos, and huge curiosity about what to expect.

Ethical Thinking is a broad term for a really familiar soft skill. Since Ethics is something that is not related to fix borders, it constantly faces new demands which are even deeper and wider when people from different countries and professional background gather together. Those barriers are an opportunity to show our human aspect, respect and humanity in the way of thinking and believing even though they may be challenging.

From all the different topics covered today, weve chosen to speak about end of life related care. Despite all the individuous beliefs, faith and countries legislation, it keeps being one of the most sacred topics in Medicine as living and dying are one of the most human things.

The right to refuse cardio-pulmonary resuscitation attempts, palliative care, assisted suicide, assisted death, euthanasia what are the exact borders between these terms? Do all doctors recognize them? Do all medical students learn them at university? And what about patients and families?

A death in dignity is what human beings are trying to achieve. Especially when confronted with scenarios which can be, at least transitorily, perceived as worse than death. Can assisted suicide be seen as a natural extension of the patients self-determination and a possible way to dignity? On the other hand offering high standard palliative care may be an important answer to the loneliness ones face when confronting the end of life.

Nonetheless, a possible definition of good death seems to be more or less consensual: painless, with some control of whats happening, not merely at the mercy of good intentioned health professionals. Also surrounded by the ones who actually matter.

Overall Ethics is something vivid that needs to be developed and evolved in order to find new ideas and define new standards. Is living through a constant exchange of point of views and discussing beliefs in order to find a common ground which is socially acceptable and culturally relevant to each community.

At the end we learned one really important thing about ethical arguments: if you have no other ethical argument, say that it is against human dignity. No one wants to argue against human dignity. (by Pawel Lukow)

by Joana Maia (Portugal) and Benjamin Magyar (Switzerland)

Joana Maia and Benjamin Magyar

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