By Sylvester Thompson
A Moderator of the National Bioethics Committee (NBC), Dr Chitu Princewill, has expressed optimism that the establishment of the committee will impact positively on the morals of Nigerians.
Princewill, also Deputy Director at the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
She said it would influence the way and manner Nigerians approach and respond to issues, allowing morals to take its rightful place in the scheme of things.
“When established, the NBC will foster debates and educational programmes that will bring people together to talk about ethical issues pertinent to Nigerians and come up with solutions beneficial to the country,” she said.
Princewill, who defined bioethics as the application of moral principles to knowledge of human values in relationship to life, said the NBC is a multidisciplinary field consisting of professionals of different background.
According to Princewill, one of the mandates of the committee is to advise the government and policy makers adequately on ethical issues in the country.
She added that the government believed in the efficacy of the NBC and that was why money was voted for it to make sure that it became realistic.
The bioethics expert observed that as a society, if the NBC was established before the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they would have sensitised Nigerians about the vaccine and what to be expected.
“Nobody told Nigerians that the vaccines released were for emergency use authorisation and once something is released for emergency use authorisation, you don’t force people to take it,’’ she said.
Princewill explained that bioethics did not condemn people accused of wrong doing or not acting in manners expected, but instead, seeks understanding by asking questions.
The moderator said bioethics deals with why people do or act the way they do and if what they do is right in accordance with moral principles, and that it also has to do with the environment.
According to him, the understanding of how people act and behave is important because what is applicable as a norm in one environment may not be applicable in another environment.
She said, “People can not just be judged and condemned by what is heard about them, questions like why, when and where need to be asked.”
“ We need to understand things critically and objectively. So, bioethics is about asking questions critically and objectively.’’
Princewill said in bioethics applications, emotion and sentiments were not allowed to overshadow sense of reasoning and judgment, but rather issues are approached objectively.