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"Anyone who wishes to be considered humane has ample cause to consider what it means to be sick and poor in the era of globalization and scientific advancement."

Paul Farmer

BioethicsWithout Borders

Every year at least 2,000,000 children die from diarrhea and respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis—mostly in the developing world. Yet these deaths are easily preventable through inexpensive medical treatments (such as antibiotics) and environmental interventions that would greatly improve the quality of water, air and sanitation.

Needless deaths occur in the U.S. too. Every hour Congress debated whether or not Terry Schiavo's feeding tube should be removed, two Americans died for lack of health insurance.

The public face of bioethics focuses on hot-button issues such as stem cell research, genetic privacy, bioterrorism and physician-assisted suicide. These are, without doubt, critical issues. But larger policy questions are all-too-often neglected. For instance: How does industry funding affect pharmaceutical research and studies in food science? Do we have a right to healthcare? If so, how much care are we entitled to? Public health emergencies put profound stress on health care resources; in a fragmented health system, who is responsible for ensuring that the basic needs of all citizens are met? Who is responsible for ensuring that children, both in the developed world and the developing world, do not die from readily preventable causes? How do we decide, given limited resources, which children should be helped first?

The Rock Ethics Institute is committed to addressing these questions and to engaging issues of healthcare and health (both individual and public) more broadly—in the curriculum, in research, and in public policy discussion.

Bioethics Without Borders means:

  1. broadening our focus to include urgent global problems—particularly in the developing world—as well as domestic issues;
  2. supporting interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research in the field of bioethics;
  3. recognizing that while medical innovations are critical, solutions to some of our most pressing problems will also require improvements in other areas, such as water and sanitation, the local and global environment, and transportation infrastructure.