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African Health Sciences
Makerere University Medical School
ISSN: 1680-6905
EISSN: 1680-6905
Vol. 15, No. 2, 2015, pp. 628-633
Bioline Code: hs15087
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

African Health Sciences, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2015, pp. 628-633

 en The anthropological approach challenges the conventional approach to bioethical dilemmas: a Kenyan Maasai perspective.
Sharif, Thikra & Bugo, John


Background: The cultural background, religion and societal norms have a huge influence on the decision making process for physicians, patients and their families, when faced with medical ethical dilemmas. While the medical professionals, through their training, can rely on the principles of autonomy, justice, beneficence and non-maleficence to guide them, the patients can only draw from their personal and cultural experiences.
Objective: To explore some of the challenges that face physicians when presented with ethical dilemmas.
Methods: A review of the literature on the principles of medical ethics and the cultural practices of the Maasai tribe, as well as, interview, interaction and observation of the patients and family during patient. management.
Results: In the Maasai community in Kenya, where family is the center of all attention and decision-making, the listed ethical principles and rules have a very different understanding of the self-determination, and autonomy becomes collective rather than individualistic. Medical practitioners when faced with ethical medical dilemmas are neither comfortable in adopting the conventional bioethical guidelines, nor in offering a health care purely based on cultural and historical practice.
Conclusion: In our set up, developing culturally relevant principles of bioethics appears to be the most effective solution in addressing medical ethical dilemmas.

Bioethical dilemmas; Kenyan Maasai perspective

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