The International Ethics Conference held at the University of Botswana from 6-10 December 2009 brought together over 250 delegates, speakers, and other participants from a wide range of disciplines. The theme of the conference, Retrieving the Human Face of Science: Understanding Ethics and Integrity in Healthcare, Medicine and Research, was topical for the delegates, who were a blend of healthcare professionals, academicians, lawyers, health policy makers, theologians, researchers, media professionals, retired professionals, medical and nursing students, and, interestingly, laypersons who attended both as consumers of medical services and as potential research participants. Though health professionals and researchers represented the majority, the mix clearly reflected the growing interest in bioethics amongst people of all social backgrounds, and an increase in the magnitude and momentum of the bioethics movement globally and in Botswana specifically.
Summary of the Conference
The conference began on Sunday, December 6, 2009 with four pre-conference workshops held in two parallel sessions in the morning and afternoon. The pre-conference workshops were facilitated by teams of local and international experts, and provided a platform for the discussion of important questions in the area of international research. The workshops also provided guidance on preparing proposals to meet the ethical requirements of review boards. The sessions were very useful for young and up-coming researchers, and stimulated debates and discussions around the issue of post-trial access.
The workshops were followed by a Braai in the Mokolodi Nature Reserve--an experience that was aimed at showcasing Botswana's natural gifts whilst at the same time serving as a stimulant for networking. The conference itself ran from December 7-9, 2009 and offered a blend of absorbing and interesting plenary sessions and panel discussions. The keynote speakers, presenters, and panelists represented various disciplines ranging from health research, research administration, health policy, and public health.
The conference included three keynote addresses covering various aspects related to each of the three main areas of focus--healthcare, medicine, and research. Each of the three keynotes was followed by comments from respondents who had expertise in the topics presented by the keynote presenters.
The first keynote was given by His Grace Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a man held...