Health Policy, Ethics and Human Values — An International Dialogue.

CIOMS also has to its credit a series of publications emanating from the programme “Health Policy, Ethics and Human Values – An International Dialogue” – a major programme which originated at a CIOMS Conference held in Athens in 1984. The purpose of the Conference, which was planned in consultation with WHO, was to discuss, in an international and intercultural context, the ethical questions raised by health policy-making and policy decisions. The Conference brought together health policy-makers, ethicists, and philosophers from the world’s major cultural and religious groups, as well as secularists. The discussions covered the topics of equity, social justice, community participation, and the dignity of individuals in sickness and health, in the context of health policy-making. The Programme itself was initiated in 1985, with the following objectives: to strengthen national capacities for addressing and making decisions about the ethical and human-values issues involved in health policy; to contribute to improved understanding of the concepts inherent in WHO’s goal of Health for All; to develop transcultural and transdisciplinary approaches and methods for working in this field, and to use improved understanding of the approaches of various societies to the ethical and human-values aspects of health policy, as a way to promote deeper human understanding of human values across cultural and political lines.

The main means of implementing the Programme was the organization of international, intercultural conferences, with a global orientation, although regional conferences of more limited scope were also organized. The titles of some of the conferences illustrate the scope of the issues addressed: “Health Policy, Ethics and Human Values — Indian Perspectives” (1985); “Health Policy, Ethics and Human Values — European and North American Perspectives” (1987); “Ethics and Human Values in Family Planning” (1988); “Health Policy, Ethics and Human Values: An Islamic Perspective” (1988); “Health Technology Transfer: Whose Responsibility” (1989); “Genetics, Ethics and Human Values: Human Genome Mapping, Genetic Screening and Genetic Therapy” (1990); “Poverty, Vulnerability, the Value of Human Life, and the Emergence of Bioethics” (1994); and “Impact of Scientific Advances on Future Health” (1994). Certain of these Conferences were co-sponsored by WHO and, in certain cases, by other entities. It may be asserted that the proceedings of these Conferences constitute significant contributions to the literature on the particular topics under consideration.