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National bioethics documents set for Presidency’s approval

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National bioethics documents set for Presidency’s approval

Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, the Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), says that the national bioethics documents will soon be transmitted to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval.

Mustapha disclosed this at the NABDA’s bioethics educational programme in Abuja on Monday.

He said that the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, already signed the National Bioethics Federal Executive Council Memo.

According to him, Nigeria is a signatory to the 2005 UNESCO declaration on bioethics and human rights.

“As a signatory to the declaration, Nigeria is expected to develop the National Bioethics Framework and Policy Documents that will lead to the establishment of a functional national bioethics committee.

“Article 23 of the Declaration affirms that member states should endeavour to foster bioethics education and training at all levels as well as encourage information and knowledge dissemination programme about bioethics,’’ he said.

The NABDA director-general noted that the process of establishing the National Bioethics Committee began in 2009 with UNESCO organising the first national bioethics stakeholders meeting.

He said the second was also organised by UNESCO in 2017 while NABDA in collaboration with the National Commission for UNESCO (NATCOM) organised the third in 2019.

Mustapha pointed out that the three meetings were all geared towards drafting the National Bioethics Framework and Policy Documents which were vital documents required for the establishment of a National Bioethics Committee.

“The National Bioethics Documents are to serve as a guide for the establishment and proper functioning of the National Bioethics Committee,’’ he said.

He stressed that there were numerous advantages to be drawn from the establishment of the committee.

However, he noted that as the giant of Africa, Nigeria should take the lead in bioethics for the rest of the continent to follow.

Dr Chitu Princewill, Deputy Director at the NABDA and Desk Officer of Bioethics unit, said three major components were required for the establishment of the National Bioethics Committee in Nigeria.

“First is the development of a national bioethics framework and policy documents, second is the bioethics educational programme and the third is the inauguration of the members.

“The inauguration will come after the approval of the National Bioethics programme and Policy Documents by the Federal Executive Council headed by the President,’’ Princewill said.

She said the educational programme was a continuous process due to the rapid advances in science, medicine and societal changes in the environment, local and international laws.

The Bioethics Desk Officer said that the objectives of the educational programme were to give participants the basic knowledge of bioethics as well as to understand the core principles of bioethics.

Prof. Adefolarin Malomo, a professor of Neurology and trained Bioethicist, said that bioethics would affect how Nigerians look at issues that affect human lives using different background theories, understanding and principles.

Speaking in an interview on the sideline of the event, Malomo said bioethics in a country such as Nigeria had to take advantage of all aspects of social life to strengthen everybody.

“Doing good is something that should occur at all levels, if you are a husband, a boss and above, it’s your obligation to continuously seek and do good to those who are below you.

“Bioethics is something that will beef up our understanding of ourselves because as human beings we are gifted and talented about the light we get,’’ he said.

At the programme, five lectures were delivered on Introduction to Bioethics and Theories of Bioethics by Prof. Peter Omonzejele.

Others were Evolution of Human Research Protection and Principles of Bioethics/Informed Consent by Prof. Adefolarin Malomo.

Prof. Omokhoa Adeleye also delivered a lecture on Research Misconduct and Integrity.

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