The Centre for Bioethics and Humanities, International Medical University (IMU) hosted a Youth Ambassador Programme for Bioethics in May 2023, to create a strong sense of social responsibility, commitment to knowledge development, understanding of current global issues, and leadership skills on various ethical issues. IMU sponsored nine students from the foundation and undergraduate studies to attend the youth programme, which saw a total of 20 participants including those from other private institutions.
Before joining the main activities at the IMU campus, the participants attended a series of online lectures on topics such as “Ethics of Emerging Technologies and AI”, “What is Bioethics”, “Moral Responsibility”, and “Public Health Issues and COVID-19 Pandemic” presented by facilitators who are from the fraternity of bioethics in Asia.
Bonnie Wong Xin Yee, FS123 (Foundation in Science student) found the sessions interesting and a good opportunity for students to interact with professors closely and hear their opinions and answers to any questions they had. Meanwhile Loh Ehung, FS322 was grateful for the good opportunity to meet new people and share ideas, while learning more about ethical issues within the healthcare system.
At the student group sessions, the three groups led by IMU students had dialogue sessions on current issues such as ChatGPT and generative AI, justice and morality, including the challenges of post-pandemic life and the rise of artificial intelligence, and lastly the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Tan Kuan Teng, PC121 (Pharmaceutical Chemistry student), further added that these sessions were great learning experiences, and they broadened their perspective on greener more sustainable goals as well as ethics in the scientific field.
On Day Two, the youths attended the roundtable on global health security, with a panel of experts, including Prof Dr Datuk Lokman Hakim bin Sulaiman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, and Prof of Public Health at the International Medical University. A variety of topics were covered during the roundtable, but one of the most prominent issues discussed was human security during the pandemic – freedom from want, freedom from fear, and freedom to live in dignity.
During the pandemic, the principles of human security were practiced in two different ways: the freedom in choosing the vaccine, and the freedom of security from diseases. It is important to think about human security in times of crisis, or when making decisions that impact life, such as decisions made during the pandemic.
On the final day of the programme, the three youth groups presented a live debate on health security, a role-play on the dilemma to receive treatment or transplant from a donor of another race or religion, and a short drama on plastic pollution and its impact on the environment and human health.
IMU students who participated in the event found the programme beneficial as reported by Premaanand A/L Rawi@Jagen from BM121 (Biomedical Science student) “Great networking opportunities and fundamental for career progression and personal growth” and Loh Hui Nie, FS322 “Participating in the conference made me realize that I need more self-improvement.”
In conclusion, the event went well, and the IMU students had a great opportunity to connect with other youths and experts in the field. It was an incredible learning experience that allowed the IMU students to learn and understand more about ethics, and hopefully to practice what they learnt from the programme such as decision-making when facing public health issues and research. For the same reasons, students in IMU should be exposed to ethics and better prepare them for future dilemmas they might face, and to make the right decisions, not for their good, but for the greater good of humankind.
The youths were also inspired to be ambassadors to their peers, to promote ethics, maintain human security, and make justified, ethical decisions for a better, brighter future. Again, the youths would like to thank the organisers, as well as IMU for sponsoring and providing opportunities for student growth.
Written by JiaXian (Zen) Ong, Vice President of Health Sciences Student Representative Council (SRC) 22/23 and reviewed by A/Prof Sheba D.Mani, Director, Centre for Bioethics and Humanities, IMU.