By Tiisetso Moroke

Ideally, for a medical practice to be considered “ethical”, it must respect all four of these principles: autonomy, justice, beneficence, and non-maleficence. Is Lesotho’s Ministry of Health and the relevant stakeholders considering all these principles when it comes to handling matters of covid-19 in Lesotho?

By the principle of autonomy, in medical practice, autonomy is usually expressed as the right of competent adults to make informed decisions about their own medical care.

In the traditional “covenant relationship,” the central obligations of the doctor or medical practitioner are competence, compassion, caring, and good communication. Recognition of their autonomy means that patients must be treated with respect, be properly informed, be listened to, give their consent voluntarily and without coercion, and have their confidentiality fully respected.

This is an abstract from one local newspaper, The Reporter Lesotho. This is a violation of autonomy, lack of respect for patients’ rights and at the same time communicating false information from members of the ministry.

The principle of autonomy clearly stipulates that people should be treated as people and not simply as “patients”. I believe that the individualistic version of autonomous choice is fundamentally flawed and that medical ethics should always be set in the context of relationships and community.

I suggest a principled version of patient autonomy that involves the provision of sufficient and understandable information and space for patients, who has the capacity to make a settled choice about medical interventions on themselves, to do so responsibly in a manner considerate to others.

Also, the principle of nonmaleficencerequires us that we not create a harm or injury to the patient, either through acts of commission or omission. It takes forever for the ministry to release results of the tested individuals, so far I know of people who haven’t got their results seven days later, and are still waiting (They tested on Friday, July 3rd, and up to Friday, July 10th, they had not received their results).

They have literally put their lives on hold, probably infecting other people as well unaware since they still haven’t got their results back. How much harm is being caused due to the omission of information?

This principle affirms the need for medical competence. It is clear that medical mistakes may occur; however, this principle articulates a fundamental commitment on the part of health care professionals to protect their patients from harm.

Justice in health care is usually defined as a form of fairness, or as Aristotle once said, “giving to each that which is his due.” This implies the fair distribution of goods in society and requires that we look at the role of entitlement.

The MOH and the relevant stakeholders are not being just to the public. The demands of the principle of justice must apply at the bedside of individual patients but also systemically in the laws and policies of society that govern the access of a population to health care.

The statements of medical ethics require the physician to do what is best for the patient and place the patient’s interests before the interests of the physician. Above all, the purpose of medical ethics is to protect and defend human dignity and patients’ rights.

Ethical standards promote the aim of medical care: to alleviate suffering. Medical care is built on the communication between medical workers on one side and patients and/or patients’ families on another side.

Ethical standards promote the values that are essential to good communication, such as trust, accountability, mutual respect and fair medical care.

Many ethical standards in medical care, including informed consent, protection of privacy and maintenance of confidentiality, provide a grantee for respect for persons. And MOH together with its relevant stakeholders are handling covid-19 matters in a very careless manner that puts patients at more risk. NW

Republished from Medium.

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