Professor invited to Paris for UNESCO roundtable discussion

By Jen Cardone | The Duquesne Duke

Henk ten Have, director of the Center for Healthcare Ethics, spoke at the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) roundtable discussion in Paris last Friday.

Ten Have, who was the director of UNESCO’s division of ethics of science and technology from 2003 to 2010, said he was given the opportunity to speak because the organization wanted to hear his thoughts on the future of the program.

In particular, the meeting was focused on UNESCO’s International Governmental Bioethics Committee body who recommends future activities in the bioethics program.

Only 36 representatives were present last Friday. Recommendations from the eight invited guests will be discussed at the General Conference in Paris in October where all 196 member states will be in attendance.

According to ten Have, there were two types of recommendations for the bioethics program from the eight invitees: The first was “to focus on new technologies and explore the ethical implications for health and science policy,” he said.

“Dr. ten Have’s expertise…brings extraordinary prestige to Duquesne.”

Gerald Magill

The second, which ten Have focused on during his portion of the meeting, was the need “to focus on the social and policy context” in developing countries where people do not have access to healthcare or medication because of lack of technology.

According to ten Have, the main issue is “social justice,” and he would like a guarantee that all countries can have access to the benefits of medicine and technology.

Ten Have said he believes there is a “need to make sure that health policy will guarantee that people have access to health care and technology,” suggesting that there should be arrangements created for people in developing countries to buy cheaper medication.

“This will also imply critique of current global arrangements that favor developed and rich countries,” ten Have said.

Eight experts spoke last Friday, but the ultimate decision will continue to be discussed by government delegations with regard to the bioethics program leading toward the October General Conference in Paris. At next month’s meeting, 196 member states will be in attendance and they will decide the ultimate route of the bioethics program.

All of the presentations were translated into English, French and Spanish simultaneously. Ten Have said this caused the conference to run for three and a half hours, longer than the two anticipated hours.

Ten Have also said he had the opportunity to meet people interested in bioethics, but who did not have the accessibility to expertise. Additionally, he had the pleasure of meeting Michael G. Marmot, director of the International Centre for Health and Society.

Marmot, from the United-Kingdom, is an international expert in social determinants of health who shared ten Have’s view of a focus “in bioethics on social justice,” ten Have said. He was also one of the invited speakers at the conference.

Gerald Magill, the Vernon F Gallagher chair for the integration of science, theology, philosophy and law, said ten Have’s accomplishments have “enabled him to expand the field of bioethics into what is now widely known as global bioethics.”

“Dr. ten Have’s expertise and leadership in global bioethics brings extraordinary prestige to Duquesne University and to its Center for Healthcare Ethics that now attracts doctoral students from around the world,” Magill said.