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