Penchaszadeh VB. Bioética y educación médica. [Bioethics and medical education.] Cuadernos Médico Sociales [Medical-Social Notebooks] 1999 May; 75:77-84.

Objectives: Provide an historical analysis of the challenges facing bioethics in socioeconomic contexts that commercialize access to healthcare and to examine certain bioethical issues that require urgent attention in medical school curricula.

Methodology: Analytical and interpretive.

Results: The application of neoliberal economic doctrines and the exportation of the United States ’ system, increasingly marginalizes more people. This system dismantles important achievements in health. It also causes the appearance of epidemics such as tuberculosis and cholera. Further consequences are an increase in violence and a rise in new endemic illnesses and chronic diseases such as cancer and AIDS.

The author critically analyzes the tendency to overvalue the advances of medical science and technology to the detriment of considering social and economic progress. He also clarifies the ethical dilemmas of introducing high technology without reflecting on its social impacts. The centrality granted to the technical-scientific dimension produces concepts of prevention and treatment of illnesses which are centered upon the individual, in place of the community, and which elevate the use of high technology in place of holistic approaches.

The bioethics of unequal access to the benefits of science should apply not only to individual medical practice, but also to broader medical-social and health policy questions. At present, bioethics devotes greater attention to the principles of justice and equity. Topics of concern include the definition of priorities in the use of resources for healthcare, affording equitable access to healthcare services independent of the ability to pay for them, and the responsibility of the state to assure the right to health among all citizens.

Conclusions: Healthcare professionals must receive training in bioethics throughout their careers. In bioethics, simple prescriptions do not exist. Rather, bioethical mandates should consider culture, social level, expectations, meaning ascribed to an illness or handicap, religion, etc. The integration of bioethics in the training of healthcare professionals must question many aspects of medical practice, beginning with the influence that biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies exercise on medical and insurance-related decisions. Such critical questioning must also apply to state entities that turn away from their responsibility for the health of the population.

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico