- Bioethics in Uzbekistan:History, Issues, Prospects
The republic of Uzbekistan possesses an experience and approach to ethical issues of healthcare and biomedical review based on our rich history.1 Uzbekistan is the motherland of world famous scientists and thinkers such as Imam al Buhari and Ibn Sino. If the basic formation of ethics review and medical practice in the pre-Soviet period was adabnoma (a single system of ethics), then today's syncretism of oriental philosophical traditions by modern Uzbek philosophers and physicians is demonstrated by the appeal to national, historical, cultural and philosophical methodological sources of bio-medical ethics, including the customs, traditions and values of Zoroastrianism and Islam, and the achievements of medicine and philosophy of Muslim [Arabian] renascence. The inspirational legacy of thinkers and doctors in Central Asia and other great representatives of world Islamic philosophical and religious trends, such as Abu Ali ibn Sino, Abu Nasr Muhammad al Farabi, Abu Rayhan Beruni, Al kindi, Abu Hamid Gazali, Ibn Rushd, Abu Bakr Ar-Razi among others, have been important and authoritative in the past. Avicena's life and work, especially, inspire us to ponder about ethics in science. Undoubtedly, Islamic ethics describing ways of approaching or thinking about patients has influenced the content of professional ethics in Uzbekistan.
The states in Central Asia are secular but in Uzbekistan, as in other states, religious organisations representing more than ten religious denominations, are active. The law of freedom of conscience in the constitution of Uzbekistan is the manifestation of respect accorded to all believers in our state, which is why taking into account the social and cultural realities of our historic and national traditions, and studying the decision-making process for key problems of bioethics elsewhere, not only in terms of Islam but also other religions is very [End Page 501] important.2 The first national congress in bioethics with international participation3 was held in September 2005; in addition, international conferences in 2006 and 2007 have been important to the development of bioethics and science in the Republic.
Historically, Uzbekistan is a secular multiconfessional and multinational society with more than 100 nationalities, professing the concept “Turkestan is our home”. Respect of cultural, religious and national pluralism, and understanding the relevance in promoting the values of global ethics is an important factor in maintaining international stability. As President I.A. Karimov said: “… relationships between Tadjks, Turkmens, Kirgizes, Kazachs and Uzbeks are supported by history, spirit, culture and religion … The sense of regional unanimity took well-deserved place in the souls of not only native nations but also of those who regard this magnificent land as their motherland, i.e. Russians, Tatars, Jews, Uygurs and others.”4
Islam is fertile soil for developing bioethical values. This subject is relevant and cogent to Uzbek researchers; followers of Islam form the largest segment of religious followers and its standards are one of the components which form biomedical ethics in Uzbekistan. Many ethical medical rules of society assumed the shape of not only a statute of beliefs but also the laws of traditional ways of life, rituals and folk-lore, which contributes to compliance with these standards by each new generation. Some currently accepted medical ethics are framed by religious beliefs as well as by traditional practices and rituals, which contributes to a widespread understanding and acceptance of medical ethics by successive generations.
The National Ethical Committee of Uzbekistan (NECU)
NECU was organised in 2000 under the Ministry of Healthcare of the Republic of Uzbekistan.5 In Uzbekistan, a multilevel system of ethical expertise in bioethical review has been created. In accord with WHO recommendations, NECU consists of leading scientists of the Republic of Uzbekistan, not solely in medical science.6
In 2003 the Medical Association of Ubekistan (MAU) decided to change the personnel and activities of its ethics committee, renaming it the Bioethics Committee, taking into consideration the new challenges in emerging biomedical technologies.7
The goal of the bioethics committee of MAU is to oversee and uphold the practice of bioethical principles, prevent negligent practice which violates human rights and social security, uphold social moral values, and ensure ethical practices in research, medical practice, disclosure of...