Editorial: Ideas of SARS

- Darryl R.J. Macer, Ph.D.

E-mail: asianbioethics@yahoo.co.nz

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 13 (2003), 77.

There could be no more appropriate title for the editorial of a journal of bioethics from Asia in May 2003 then to include SARS. In this issue there are two papers on the issue of SARS from their perspectives, Dena Hsin and Baoqi Su, as both have experience in their daily life working in the medical setting with SARS patients, although both have shifted to consider bioethics more than clinical practice. They both faced personal decisions relating to their work from SARS. From their stories, and more we hope for in future issues, we can trace the ideas that arise with the tragedies of SARS. The focus on SARS was so high in the media that I expect few readers know that Ebola virus in Congo killed more than 100 in March. The difference may be that most people in the world, especially in safe and secure social settings felt protected from Ebola, and the pandemic of HIV also seems distant to most.

I will write more about my experience of SARS, but for now let me share some impressions from my trip to Beijing, 18-21 April, 2003, when I decided to proceed with my visit to give lectures on bioethics at three different hospitals in Beijing, despite the postponement of the Beijing International Conference on Bioethics. Coincidentally my stay corresponded with the Chinese government decision to open up the real numbers. I also purposely spent time in the countryside to make some comparisons with the city. On several occasions we saw groups of Taiwanese tourists all wearing masks, in contrast to the locals who could be at a 15% level in the city and almost nothing in the countryside. In my recent travels to New Zealand, China, Canada and Mexico airplanes have been spaciously empty, and in Japan mass fear has also changed social relations - although there are few cases.

As we compare ideas of people in this crisis, we will learn lessons about ourselves and our societies, so let us do so. In this issue of EJAIB there are two critical essays on the behaviorome project, and we encourage more to join to the project - both those who think it is doable and those who do not.

A friend to many of us, Dorothy Wertz died in Cancun, Mexico on 29 April, 2003, just after the HUGO Ethics Committee met. She will be sorely missed to many who knew her, and to many others who knew her writings and skills in bioethics and genetics. This issue includes the most recent HUGO Ethics Committee statement.

Least we forget history, there are also challenging papers in this issue for Asia, and we hope that we can emerge wiser from what happens when human beings are not treated as such.

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