NUS center appointed WHO centre for bioethics study

The World Health Organisation, WHO, has appointed National University of Singapore's Centre for Biomedical Ethics as the Asian centre for bioethics collaboration. 

This is the first such collaborating centre in Asia and one of six worldwide. 

NUS will support W-H-O in the field of ethics and health, in areas such as organ transplantation and managing non-communicable diseases. 

Apart from having a world-class health-care system and medical schools, the centre's director, Professor Alastair Campbell, says Singapore is an ideal location to study bioethics. 

"There's a tidal wave coming here - the tidal wave of chronic diseases and an aging population and one of the issues at world level and certainly in Singapore is how do we give fair access to health-care and how do we deal with the ever increasing number of non-communicable diseases. We're not clinicians, we are people who look at the ethical issues. We will look at access to medicine - how we give fair health-care provisions worldwide and this is very significant in Singapore as well - with all the ways which our government is looking at how to finance health-care in the future."

The four-year appointment will also see the center design forward-looking policies that pre-empt ethical dilemmas faced by medical professionals. 

"For example, home quarantine. How you deal with the ethical issues confronting staff who they themselves may have families and who then will be threatened at the possibility of what might be a fatal disease - where do their responsibilities lie? These issues surface quite dramatically when you have a pandemic. What we can do now is the define policies more carefully ahead of time."

In conjunction with the appointment, the National University Health System launched Singapore's first dedicated programme to address the ethical challenges that arise in the medical care of children. 

The Paediatrics Ethics and Advocacy Centre will look into and educate medical workers on issues in paediatrics care, such as end-of-life decision-making.