Clinical decision-making in the 21st century is fraught with ethical complexity. Healthcare professionals must practice medicine in a manner that reflects clinical, social and ethical responsibility. Technological advances in medical science demand that we are proactive in formulating creative solutions to challenges raised in patient care - be they clinical or ethical challenges. Debates abound not only about the quality of life but also about the quality of death. The Human Genome Project has laid bare the intricacies of inheritance and susceptibility to disease and opened new doors in an imminent era of personalized medicine. Healthcare research especially in the age of the HIV pandemic continues to expand the ethical dimension of our work. In this century society will judge the profession for how it embraces and responds to healthcare challenges - healthcare professionals will be held accountable for their clinical expertise and their ability to locate clinical care within an ethical and legal framework taking considerations of human rights into account. At the same time our sensitivity to cultural dimensions of care, and the impact of medical care on the community and environment must also be factored into an equation that is expanding in complexity.
The Centre for Medical Ethics and Law was established with these challenges in mind. It is against this backdrop that we engage in:
- Undergraduate bioethics teaching
- Postgraduate bioethics teaching
- Empirical research into bioethical issues
- Consultancy service to surrounding hospitals
The Centre for Medical Ethics and Law is located at the Faculty of Health Sciences in Tygerberg.