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ABSTRACT

The discussion on ethical issues, it is said, should not be confined to experts but should be extended to patients and local communities, because of the real need to engage stakeholders and non-stakeholders alike not only in carrying out any biomedical research project, but also in the drafting and legislation of bioethics instruments. Several local and inter-country consultations have already been conducted in furtherance of this goal, but there is much left to be desired in them. The consultations may have helped in articulating local principles, but not in making the instruments embody these principles. As such, instruments turn incompossible, i.e. the principles and actions they legitimate are not performable. In an ethnographic study conducted in the Philippines, for example, paragraphs 29 and 30 of the Declaration of Helsinki and CIOMS guidelines 8 and 15 are construed as not only contradictory to one another but also to local principles. This problem can be solved by taking deliberate steps to ensure that consultations are grounded in ethnographic data about local principles, which the instruments would embody. A steering committee can be of help in gathering ethnographic data, in conducting consultations at the local level, and in providing a venue for discourse on various bioethical issues.