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El Salvador establishes National Bioethics Commission

The Republic of El Salvador has established a National Bioethics Commission. The Commission has been created by decree of the Minister of Public Health and Social Assistance.

The mandate of the Commission is to assist in the elaboration of legal frameworks and national policies and to promote the protection and respect of life, the environment, and human dignity. Amongst its aims are the promotion of public debate and the provision of specific knowledge for debate and dialogue which may potentially be used in the decision making process in the field of health care.

The Commission of El Salvador has 26 members. Doctor Fernando Conde, Member of the Bioethics Association of El Salvador has been appointed as the Chair of the Commission. Members are representing different professional bodies in areas such as public health, research, agriculture, environment and justice.

UNESCO will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Bioethics Commission of El Salvador to assure cooperation for the next three years. A training course in working methods will be provided to the members of the Commission in 2010 by UNESCO experts. Documentation packages of relevant bioethics materials will be provided and a second training, specifically focused on bioethics will be organized in 2011.

The establishment of National Bioethics Commissions and Committees follows the recommendations of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, adopted by UNESCO in 2005. The mandate and mission of a National Bioethics Commission and/or Committee is generally focused on policy advice, public debate and ethics education, and therefore wider than the scope of a research ethics committee.

The Republic of El Salvador is the seventh country to join the UNESCO project on Assisting Bioethics Committees (ABC). The newly formed National Bioethics Committees of Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Jamaica and Togo signed an agreement of cooperation with UNESCO earlier this year and participated in the first training course. An agreement with the new Committee in Madagascar will be signed next year.

Henk ten Have, Director
Division of Ethics of Science and Technology of UNESCO

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Author(s) UNESCO
Publication Date 10-08-2009

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