Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Medical Research and it's Dangers to Our Lives and Safety

In an article by a fellow Amper on Amplify @rafaelmarquez he brings up the recent revelation that a hospital in South African had been obtaining kidneys from poor Brazilians and Romanians that were paid to donate kidneys to wealthy Israelis. Sadly in return for a guilty plea charges were dropped. So it remains to be seen if the guilty will even face more than monetary fines and punishments. Read the full article and it's comments here Hospital Admits Transplants

This story only shows that if we don't stay vigilant the poor and downtrodden among us will be unfairly used and abused by those who have the money and power to do it. And we have see not only private groups like this hospital abuse medicine but governments including our own do so as well. 

Look at the recent admission U.S. government medical researchers intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission more than 60 years ago. Many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study. About one third of those who were infected never got adequate treatment.

And while, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered extensive apologies for actions taken by the U.S. Public Health Service how does ever fully excuse or defend such treatment of another human being. In part their statement read;"The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical," according to the joint statement from Clinton and Sebelius. "Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices."

And then again we see the an even worst mistreatment and of our own citizens in the case of the Tuskegee Airmen who for forty years between 1932 and 1972, were the victims of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) as they conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. The story finally broke in the Washington Star on July 25, 1972, in an article by Jean Heller of the Associated Press. Her source was Peter Buxtun, a former PHS venereal disease interviewer and one of the few whistle blowers over the years. The PHS, however, remained unrepentant, claiming the men had been “volunteers” and “were always happy to see the doctors,” and an Alabama state health officer who had been involved claimed “somebody is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.”

You can read more about the Tuskegee experiment here: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

So from these examples we can see the danger and the totality of the risk of medicine run amok. And as we now see genetic studies and experiments opening up even more ethical questions as well as medical advances we must say alert to the fact that we face an age when abuse and  mistreatment in the name of medicine may reach new heights. Everything from DNA and stem cell experiments make us face genetic manipulation and control while we have to worry if organs are being harvested for those with the power and money to obtain them from others against their will and at the cost of their lives.  

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