Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Contemporary Issues in Biomedical Ethics

I have been invited to teach a course on Contemporary Issues in Biomedical Ethics in the Malaysian Church by a local Seminary. It will be for pastors, Church workers, seminary students and interested Christians.
I am undecided whether to accept or not, and I hope you can give me some feedback.

As a pastor or Christian leader in your church, do you think this course (see below) will be useful to you?

Will you take the time off to attend?

Here are some of my rudimentary thoughts about the course:

Learning Objectives
1. To identify biomedical issues that the contemporary Malaysia church are facing or will face in the immediate future
2. To examine the contemporary social response to these issues
3. To examine the biblical and theological response to these issues
4. To help participants develop a theological way of thinking through these issues
5. To help participants develop action plans for their own Christian faith communities

Course Content
1. The basics of biomedical ethics

a. Sanctity of human life
b. Personhood
c. Solving ethical dilemmas
d. Thinking theologically

2. Infertility and the technology of reproduction
a. Perception of infertility in Malaysia
b. Is infertility a disease?
c. Problems with reproductive medical technologies
d. What shall we do with the extra embryos?

3. Issues with cloning
a. Lessons from Dolly
b. Potential applications

4. Why the fuss about stem cell research?
a. Does the ends justifies the means
b. Making a human-animal hybrid. Frankenstein in Malaysia?
c. The science in the science fiction

5. Reviewing new medical treatment modalities
a. Gene therapy
b. Anti-aging: the cult of youth
c. Cord blood storage
d. Vaccine for prevention of cancers

6. Remaking man in his own image
a. Should Christians go for cosmetic surgery?
b. Building or rebuilding self image

7. Choosing sex
a. Baby boy or girl?
b. Homosexuality
c. Transexuality
d. Hermaphrodites

8. Contraception and the Genesis cultural mandate
a. Sex: recreation or procreation?
b. ethical issues in choosing a method of contraception
c. morning after pills

9. Abortion in the local church
a. Victims of incest and rape
b. Early prenatal diagnosis: what are you going to do about it?
c. Teen pregnancy
d. Sex education in churches

10. Healthcare costs and resources allocation
a. Elderly care
b. Are most of medical investigations and treatments necessary?
c. Billion dollars pharmaceutical industry
d. Healthcare as an industry
e. Insurance
f. Privatisation of public hospitals

11. When to stop treatment?
a. Is giving food treatment?
b. DNR-do not resuscitate order
c. Living will
d. Active and passive euthanasia
e. Dying with dignity
f. Hospice care

12. Saving lives by organ donation
a. Opt out or opt in organ donation
b. Using organs from prisoners
c. Organ rejection

13. Lessons from eugenics
a. Second class human beings
b. Use of scientific data from coerced human experimentation: should Christians use drugs derived from such sources?

14. Doctor patient relationships-the lost art
a. Patient charter-rights of patients
b. Communication-what the doctor says and what the patient hears
c. Tasks of Christian doctors
d. Visiting the sick-redefining a pastoral role

15. Faith healing and medical therapy
a. Complementary or conflict?
b. Miracle or medicine?

[yes, it is a long course and students get credits for it.]

What do you think? Should I do it?

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Blogger Paul said...

Personally, I would attend it.

7:42 AM  
Blogger keropok lekor said...

Wow that's quite a comprehensive list. Yeah I think we need to engage with this issues, not only for the clergy and seminarians, but also for Christian university students especially those in healthcare.

I would like to suggest that cross-cultural communication and cultural safety be explored as well, as Malaysia is an increasingly multicultural society, and dealing with individuals with various cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds certainly requires clinicians to be sensitive and wise in crossing cultures in their everyday encounter.

Besides, the issue of health inequalities in terms of access, outcomes and level of care could also be explored, in light of the Christian vision of social justice.

my 2 cents.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Sze Zeng said...

Hi Alex,

I think you should do it. There are few locals that I am aware who is capable of conducting it.

Your professional experience coupled with theological awareness meant to give very practical and relevant support to Christians in Malaysia to deal with such issues. Though the issue has not really hit the communities here, this will elevates the awareness of such issues among believers and prepare them to handle it when it comes.

Just my personal opinion that u should do it.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

And ... if you do take this on, could you try and get it taped / audition or even better video? I would be willing to purchase a set (if the seminary is willing to sell).

Of course someone has to do the hard work on this additional task but the way I see it, if the seminaty serioulsy wants to help bring awareness on this subject, this would ber a blessing...

4:32 AM  
Blogger worldwindows said...

Some of the topics are quite new and current. Stem cell for example. I watch it in Discovery a few weeks ago, I believe. Some have been there for a while and need to be updated with the latest.

Being involved in the pastoral ministries for many years it is always good for the pastors to upskill.

The challenge is to make the course current, relevant to the grassroots, divide the myths for the facts, apply biblical rather than humanistic perspectives and interesting.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Dear Paul, Keropok Lekor, sze zeng and worldwindows. Thanks for your encouragement. I shall take up the challenge.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

hope you will provide lots of notes!!

8:20 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

tons of it and I shall make sure you have a set :)

8:42 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Thank you good doctor!! Ah the blessing of word processing and e-mail!

9:19 AM  

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