• S. Rennie
  • L. Ravez
  • D. Makindu
  • A. Fox
  • B. Grauls
  • R. Yemesi
  • P. Kayembe
  • J. L. Chalachala
  • M. Kashamuka
  • F. Behets
2018
Éthique & Santé 15 (3) : 192-200
Full article

In regions marked by socio-economic turmoil, the task of teaching bioethics to health professionals and researchers can be more challenging than elsewhere. To demonstrate this, in this article we describe some of our teaching experiences in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the past decade. A first difficulty is linguistic. Anglo-Saxon language and culture largely dominates the field of bioethics, complicating teaching and education for those who do not master the language. A second obstacle is conceptual. Bioethics is often misunderstood as reflection on technological developments in medicine, which distorts its objectives and narrows its scope, particularly in resource-constrained settings. A third difficulty is cultural and political. Ethics in this setting is difficult to distinguish from common morality and the work of moralists, who comment on problems in medicine from a religious standpoint. Moreover, when interacting with communities and institutions that are strongly hierarchical, the critical stance of bioethics can give rise to resistance and rejection. These are among the array of difficulties that undoubtedly have given rise to sharp critiques of bioethics training initiatives in developing countries, where the introduction of bioethics has been depicted as a form of Western imperialism. While taking these criticisms seriously, our experiences in the field show how these seemingly insurmountable difficulties can be transformed into (more or less) manageable challenges.