An ethical solution to the challenges in teaching anatomy with dissection in the Chinese culture

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Abstract

Universities and medical schools in China are faced with an ongoing shortage of cadavers for education and research because of insufficient numbers of cadaver donations. This article will examine the main obstacles to cadaver donation in the Chinese culture. These include superstitious traditional views about the body, a lack of legislation regulating donations, and a deficiency of effective channels for cadaver donations. Cadaver dissection has always been the most important method of teaching anatomy to medical students. Today, ethics courses have also become essential to a complete medical education. Contemporary physicians need to be equipped to navigate the myriad of moral and ethical issues inherent to modern medicine. In China, cadaver donations lag behind those in other countries, threatening to create valid disadvantages in medical education. New legislation and public education are necessary to remove cultural barriers and change Chinese views on cadaver donation. For this reason, the Department of Human Anatomy at Nanjing Medical University has established the “Educational Center for Medical Ethics.” The goal of the Center is to promote proper respect for cadavers used for medical research and education, cherish the human lives the cadavers represent, and gain the trust of potential donors. Anat Sci Ed 1:56–59, 2008. © 2008 American Association of Anatomists.

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