Decolonizing Bioethics in Africa
Keywords:Decolonizing bioethics, African bioethics, healthcare ethics in Africa, ethics imperialism
The global spread of bioethics from its North-American and European provenance to non-Western societies is currently raising some concerns. Part of the concern has to do with whether or not the exportation of bioethics in its full Western sense to developing non-Western states is an instance of ethical imperialism. This paper attempts an exploration of this debate in the context of bioethics in sub-Saharan Africa. Rather than conceding that bioethics has a colonial agenda in Africa, this paper defends the position that the current bioethics trend in sub-Saharan Africa is an unintended imperialistic project. It argues that its colonizing character is not entirely a product of the Western programmed goals of training and institution building; rather, it is a structural consequence of many receptive African minds and institutions. Though bioethics in Africa is turning out as a colonizing project, one serious implication of such trend, if unchecked urgently, is that bioethics’ invaluable relevance to Africa is being incapacitated. This paper, therefore, attempts a decolonizing trajectory of bioethics in Africa. Contrary to the pretense of ‘African bioethics,’ which some African scholars are now defending, this paper through the logic of decolonization makes case for ‘healthcare ethics’ in Africa. In such logic, the principle of existential needs is prioritized over the principle of identity and authenticity that define African voice in bioethics.
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