Sophia: An African Journal of Philosophy

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Medical practice, human experimentation and the sanctity of human life

UP Obioha


The need and the quest for the restoration and maintenance of good health for the people have become a priority and the business of all and sundry. This is because good health for ALL is a human necessity. This is the focus and the rationality of medical practice. It is also against this backdrop that its progress is measured. Health challenges are increasingly becoming complex, therefore, simple medical therapy is becoming helpless in addressing these challenges. Thus, the introduction of the method of human experimentation which is the deliberate research with and on human beings such that knowledge so gained is thus translated in practice to the maintenance and restoration of the health of the people. However, the question is, is this method appropriate in serving the health needs of the people and ensuring and maintaining the sanctity of the human life since part of the rationality of medical practice is to save life and make it worth living? The paper while acknowledging the importance of human experimentation (especially therapeutic human experimentation) in advancing medical knowledge and addressing the health challenges of the people, exposes the dangers that do arise with human experimentation as regards human health and the sanctity of human life. In checkmating these dangers, the paper recommends and canvasses for the adoption of the ethical principles of the Nuremberg code of 1947 in properly regulating human experimentation so as to maximize its benefits and at the same time respect the sanctity of human life.

AJOL African Journals Online