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IBC discusses health of world refugees, migrants

Dr Manal Bouhaimed meets with Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General (right).
Dr Manal Bouhaimed meets with Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General (right).

KUWAIT CITY, Sept 17: Dr Manal Bouhaimed — Chairperson of the Health Rights Committee at Kuwait Society for Human Rights participated in the meetings of the 23rd Ordinary Session of the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a Vice- President of the Committee.

Meetings which were held in Paris during the period 12-16 of the current month came in order to review, discuss and revise the reports regarding ethical considerations and responses to the right to health of refugees and migrants around the world. In addition, the IBC members discussed the ethical considerations of Big Data and Health in order to convert all these considerations into actions by the member states of the General Conference of UNESCO.

In a press statement, Bouhaimed said that in April 2016, Kuwait hosted the work teams in the UNESCO committees that are working on the preparation of these reports and the review of relevant information. She pointed that Kuwait received many tributes for this generous hosting in the opening speech delivered by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, Assistant Director-General Ms Nada Al-Nashif, Director of Ethics sector at UNESCO and the heads of the committees concerned.

The International Bioethics Committee (IBC) was established in 1993 of 36 independent experts that follow the progress in the life sciences and its applications, with emphasis on respect for the principles of human dignity and freedom.

It is the only global forum, which give way for reflection on the ethical consideration and responses in life science and applications. Bouhaimed said: “The Committee expresses its advice and recommendations on specific issues to be adopted by consensus through sessions held by the working groups of competent experts before they are published widely and forwarded to the Director-General to transmit in turn to the Member States, the Executive Board and the General Conference.”

She explained that the UNESCO Director- General appoints the 36 members of the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) to serve in their personal capacity as experts in the field. The selection is made taking into account cultural diversity, and balanced geographical representation around the world. She noted that the Director- General calls on the Committee to meet once a year at least.

Dr Bouhaimed met the Ambassador of Kuwait at UNESCO Dr Meshaal Joher Hayat, who now heads the Arab Group at UNESCO.

During the meeting, they discussed the achievements accomplished by Kuwait in this aspect. She also met with the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR, Heiko Herring, who provided the members of the International Bioethics Committee with updated information and statistics on the current status of refugees and migrants around the world.

Dr Manal Bouhaimed represented Kuwait in many specialized international forums in this aspect and she is one of the leading specialists in this field in the region. She is an academic staff member in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Kuwait.

In addition to her clinical specialization as an Ophthalmologist, she holds a doctorate in Philosophy (PhD) in medical ethics from the University of Glasgow-UK as the first Kuwaiti physician in this field, and the postdoctoral fellowship from the MacLean Center for Clinical Ethics at the University of Chicago in the United States. In addition, Dr Bouhaimed holds numerous international awards and is currently serving as a vice-president of the International Bioethics Committee in the United Nations Educational, Scientifi c and Cultural Organization (IBC-UNESCO).

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