The Federal Government of Nigeria has established the National Bioethics Committee (NBC) to assist the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in addressing bioethical issues in the country. The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Sen. Adeleke Mamora made this known during the inauguration of the NBC in Abuja.
The establishment of the committee is aimed at ensuring the protection of the dignity, rights, safety and well-being of citizens seeking healthcare assistance, as well as researchers in health and other related fields.
Mamora stated that NBC has become a crucial requirement for the advancement of science and technology globally, as it requires diverse and broad professional views, as well as a great public concern.
The minister noted that the field of bioethics in Nigeria is new and complex, with a multi-disciplinary nature that would attract many organizations from diverse sectors. Developed countries are also facing challenges in the advancement of science and technology, leading to a diversity of values at different times and places. Therefore, the establishment of the NBC is necessary to strengthen sound, informed, acceptable and adaptable policies for the good of society and its citizenry.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu explained that the challenge of bioethics in government, health and pharmaceutical issues for citizens and other stakeholders is to create value with the outcome of scientific research without violating existing moral and ethical values.
The purpose of the committee, he said, is to assist healthcare providers, hospital administrators, patients, families and the government by serving as a mechanism to develop, recommend and review constitutional standards, policies and procedures for bioethical issues.
Representative of the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Mrs. Regina Priso affirmed that Nigeria is a signatory to the 2005 UNESCO declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, which confirms that “ethical issues raised by rapid advances in the sciences and its technological advancement should be examined with due respect to human dignity and universal respect for, and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
The director-general of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha disclosed that the quest to establish the National Bioethics Committee began 14 years ago when the first national bioethics stakeholders meeting was organised in collaboration with UNESCO. He called on media organisations to publicise the importance of bioethics to the public for desired research interest in the medical sector.