Some barriers to knowledge from the global south: commentary to Pratt and de Vries

Journal of Medical Ethics 49 (5):335-336 (2023)
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Pratt and de Vries1 pose an important and uncomfortable question to all stakeholders in the global bioethics space. If global bioethics as they define it is ‘the ethics of public health and healthcare problems that are characterised by a global level effect or that require action beyond individual countries, and the ethics of research related to such problems’, one would expect justice and inclusivity to be among the ethical priorities. Yet, Pratt and de Vries carefully demonstrate how different forms of epistemic injustice and coloniality are embedded in the structure, generation of knowledge and praxis of global bioethics. They do this by unpicking three layers at which coloniality and epistemic injustice operate; knowledge-producer, knowledge-applied and knowledge-solicited. The authors also offer a three-pronged incremental approach to how individual and institutional actors in global bioethics can contribute to epistemic justice in the field. Pratt and de Vries present their work as ‘a first step towards reorienting the field’ of global health bioethics away from epistemic injustice. Indeed, theirs is a mapping, problem statement and recommendations piece …



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Caesar Alimsinya Atuire
University of Ghana