The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has raised a myriad of ethical challenges, which affect communities across the world. Bioethics education is playing an increasingly central role in addressing these issues – helping to guide resource allocation, policy and legislation surrounding politicized issues (e.g., masking), and clinical decision-making approaches for both patients and medical professionals. It is thus important for a Bioethics Education program to explore these various topics. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance and relevance of bioethics in addressing some urgent issues including:
a) allocation of resources;
b) appropriate policy and legislation;
c) ethical guidelines for clinical and research decision-making;
d) disparities in health and systemic racism.
Should the allocation of limited medical resources (e.g. vaccines) be solely determined by a community’s ability to afford or procure them? Is there an ethical obligation for countries, increasingly interdependent given globalization, to collaborate?
Should the adoption of policies and legislation be driven by individual rights? How would the interests of the community as a whole be determined, and protected? When individual interests conflict with the interests of communities, which ones should take precedence?
How should disparities in health be addressed? What strategies are likely to minimize the influence of systemic racism in people’s health? What policies can help eliminate structural racism?