Thursday, July 28, 2016
World Hepatitis Day was proclaimed by the World Health Organization. It is celebrated annually on July 28th.
The Nuremberg Code (1947) was prompted by the horrific and often deadly experimentation on human beings in Nazi concentration camps that came to light during the “Doctors’ Trials” before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals. The main principles of the Nuremberg Code require that experiments involving human subjects cause no unnecessary risk, be undertaken with the full and informed consent of the subjects, and must never knowingly cause serious injury or death. Nazi doctors were not the first, nor the last, to perform inhumane and sometimes disabling research on unsuspecting human subjects living in poverty, in prisons, mental health institutions, and orphanages. The Tuskegee syphilis experiments, the Stateville Penitentiary Malaria Study, and the Willowbrook (Long Island) State School experiments—in which children with mental disabilities were intentionally infected with viral hepatitis—are just a few examples of cases in which doctors put the pursuit of knowledge and “cures” ahead of the lives and well-being of individual human beings. The Nuremberg Code inspired other declarations of medical and research ethics. In 1948, the World Medical Association approved a statement addressing the ethics of physicians, the Declaration of Geneva. As originally adopted, it read in part: “I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of conception; even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity.”