;   Medical Translation Insight: Is "bioethics" really cultural colonialism in disguise? - ForeignExchange Translations

Yesterday, we looked at the China (and India) through the lens of IVD manufacturers. Today, we are still looking at China but on the topics of clinical research and, especially, bioethics.

By way of background, bioethics, according to Wikipedia, is:
...the study of controversial ethics brought about by advances in biology and medicine. Bioethicists are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law, and philosophy.
When applied to China, some may argue that bioethics is an oxymoron.

Earlier today, Pharmalot's article China, Bioethics & The Wild West: Joe Explains made just this point. Noting the vast differences between East and West, interviewee Joe Powers (the "Joe" in the article's title) gave the following example:
Take a sense of autonomy, for instance. We're used to a system where the individual has the right to consent to a clinical trial or a treatment and to understand what they're going through and to be able to get out without coercion. In China, this can be very different. A family member may make decisions. There are cultural taboos in connection with certain diagnoses. A doctor is inclined not to tell a patient they have cancer and instead will tell a family member. And they'll tell the patient that they're fine... In China, a patient may enroll in a clinical trial because a physician may have coerced them or they may refrain from seeking information – all out of respect for the physician. The patient dynamic can be very different. And these are differences we take for granted, but make it challenging for running trials in China...
Oh my, those Chinese... just look at how crazy things are over there!

Or are they?

Instead of China being "crazy", could it be that the Western view of bioethics is wrong or, at least, just self-serving? One of the commentators questions the assumption that the Western standard is right, that the Western view of autonomy for example has the right to supersede a standard accepted in that society for millenia and says that it "[r]aises a question where colonialism and a sense of colonial superiority is alive and well versus the Western assumption that the "modern" global standards really are superior."

A simple and fascinating question. What do you thing, gentle readers? Is there an "absolute" standard regarding bioethics or is it just another example of the West trying to impose it's mores and norms on the rest of the world?


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1 Comment:

  1. Miguel Armentia said...
    When it comes to China, I always try to think that way and see things through their eyes. I suppose most of the times we tend to think that our point of view is the best and so the rest of the world should learn from us.
    However things are never as clear as they seem.

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