It is our great honor to welcome you to the Nineteenth Asian Bioethics Conference (ABC19). In Taiwan, pioneer projects in bioethics, biomedicine and biotechnology have been highlighted since the beginning of the 21st century. These actions reflect the nation’s effort as a member of the global community in developing genomic science; as well as in societal reform for protecting civil rights in ethical, legal, and social senses.
There has been a solid tradition of civic participation in public health. Community mobilization and participation is part of the primary foundation of the health care system at the critical moments, such as in malaria eradication in 1965, successful population planning in the early 1970s, and recent achievements in defeating SARS outbreak. In the biomedical research arena, the Department of Health and Social Welfare has been responsible and effective. For instance, the regulation of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and its auditing counterpart was set up in a very short time period. That made Taiwan the first Asian country to have the IRB auditing system. In addition, ethical committees have become a required item for the annual review of hospital accreditation in Taiwan. In short, it has become a national consensus to foster professional conducts that conform to the bioethical principles in the genomic era.
Taiwan is facing the problems of aging population, innovation of information technology, and the increasingly urgent calls for preventive health-care, all of which may benefit from the advent in advanced medicine. Therefore, we contend that it is necessary to strengthen the opportunities and capacities for citizens and communities to participate in monitoring biotech expansion and keeping biomedical research accountable through community empowerment. The community-based regulation mechanisms are a stepping stone towards the maturation of social citizenship in Taiwan as well as establishing the ethical, social and legal standards in the post-genomic era. Furthermore, perpetuating community building still needs more pervasive efforts to consolidate civil society and civil values.
International exchanges, especially mutual learning from Asian countries, have been appreciated deeply. We have hosted hundreds of scholars under the platform of “Building a Collaborative Research Platform and Professional Training Workshops for Southeast Asian Countries” for 12 years. Our program of workshops usually begin with a pleasant gathering of all participants for information sharing. Afterwards, participants will be separated into groups according to their professional or research interests. For example. different groups will go to different institutions, such as mental hospitals to develop a framework for collaborative research between hospitals and, if possible, plan ongoing and sustainable personnel exchanges. At the end of the workshops, we hold a conference for participants to make their final presentations. We benefited from such mutual learning opportunities for years and appreciate various efforts from all participants. Hence, we would like to take the advantages in hosting ABC19 to share a set of far more ambitious visions and preliminary efforts for community building practices within the various contextual fabrics and layers of Asian society.
The main theme of ABC19 is “Bioethics for Smart Living in Asia: Placing Taiwan as a hub nurturing international partnerships and sustainable practices”.
The main topics of the workshops this year will include, but should not be limited to:
- Developing open education for global citizenship (work based learning/sevice learning)
- Challenging social economic and environmental justice
- Creating sustainable cities and communities
- Empowering gender /class /ethnicity equality
- Promoting climate and disaster resilience and risk management
- Advancing social development and civil engagement
- Clinical Ethics & Medical Humanities
- Medical Education & Professionalism
We welcome all members, and non-members, of the Asian Bioethics Association, and everyone from any region and specialty, regardless of age, gender, religious beliefs, and philosophy, to engage in dialogue on research and policy in science and technology, medicine and heath care, environmental ethics, biomedicine and biotechnology, ethics education, bioethics, and so on.
On behalf of all of us in Taiwan, and all supporting organizations, we look forward to hosting you in Taiwan at ABC19.
Duujian Tsai, M.D. & Ph.D.
Director, Center for Bioethics and Social Medicine
CEO, International Medical Development Center,
Pingtung Christian Hospital
Vice-President for Taiwan, Asian Bioethics