Mangalore Institute of Oncology (MIO), the only superspeciality cancer hospital in Mangalore started a UNESCO Bioethics Unit on December 2nd 2017 at Mangalore. The unit was inaugurated by Professor Dr Russell Franco D’souza, the Head of Asia Pacific Division of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics Haifa. The unit has been named as “Bioethics Education & Research Unit of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, Haifa at Mangalore Institute of Oncology” and is the only unit in the world to be working on teaching and research in cancer specific ethical issues. Dr Suresh Rao, the Director of clinical and administration is the Unit head and Dr MS Baliga is the secretary.

MIO has always valued ethics and that the mission “to provide affordable high quality service for early detection and cancer treatment with utmost ethics” coined six years back affirms our conviction in moral practice. Starting of the UNESCO Bioethics unit upholds has strengthened our belief and conviction in ethical practice. The term Bioethics (Greek bios = life; ethos = behavior) was coined in 1926 by Fritz Jahr. Bioethics is the study of the ethical issues emerging from advances in biology and medicine. It is also a moral discernment as it relates to medical policy and practice. Bioethicists are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law, and philosophy. It includes the study of values relating to primary care and other branches of medicine.

Globally, the field of bioethics has addressed diverse issues as on boundaries of life e.g. abortion, euthanasia, surrogacy, the right to refuse medical care for religious, familial, social or cultural reasons and allocation of scarce health care resources. The scope of bioethics also expands to biotechnology, including cloning, gene therapy, life extension, human genetic engineering and manipulation of basic biology through altered DNA and proteins. These developments will affect future evolution, and may require new principles that address life at its core, such as biotic ethics that values life itself at its basic biological processes and seeks their propagation.

The ethical questions and challenges are inherent in healthcare and addressing these questions and challenges is vital to the public trust on the health care fraternity. The objective of MIO Bioethics Unit will be to initiate and carry research on India specific issues in Bioethics and to cancer in particular. The centre proposes to start training programs that will emphasize on inculcation of the basic tenets of respect for autonomy, beneficence, non maleficence, and justice; and cultivating moral values and judgements in healthcare students all of which are vital in patient care. The unit also aims at integration of the ancient ethical values with the current norms in different areas of life science and healthcare through collaborative endeavors.