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New Recommendation of the HNBC

The Hellenic National Bioethics Commission issued an opinion on the individual responsibility in response to  COVID 19 (coronavirus), a critical issue during the pandemic.

 

Summary

After the measures taken from the State, the Hellenic National Bioethics Commission examined in particular the issue of individual responsibility of the citizens and of all the residents in our country, in order to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic (coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2).

From a legal perspective, each of us is also considered as a member of the community, as explicitly stated in article 25 of the Greek Constitution, which protects the rights and the freedoms of the person, not only as an individual but also as a member of a community.

Therefore, the restrictive measures taken in proportion to the seriousness and the evolution of the threat for public health have a solid basis. The value of personal autonomy is a fundamental achievement and should not be questioned under any circumstances. Nevertheless, the way we exercise our autonomy, as manifested in different ways, is subjected to moral evaluation, even if the behavior is a legitimate expression of our autonomy, which is a legally established right.

In this frame, the bioethical aspect of the healthcare of those who have been infected by the virus and of the precautionary measures taken in order to keep the virus from further spreading, is emerging from the individual responsibility according to the principle of solidarity, especially towards the most vulnerable persons of the society. By consequence, the Commission considers that everyone who currently lives in our country:

     -  Is personally responsible to take the necessary measures in order to prevent the spread of the disease, and to follow strictly the instructions provided by the competent authorities of the State, especially of the National Organization for Public Health.

    -  Is not justified by his/her behavior to put in danger his/her extended family,  his/her friends and all the persons he/she is professionally or socially related with.

     -   Is asked to adapt every activity to the common objective, which is the prevention of the pandemic, for example by avoiding to be present with other people in workplaces, markets, schools, universities, churches and religious buildings, recreational areas, sport places or other cultural venues.

Under the emergency circumstances due to the pandemic, the individual responsibility should be supported by specific decisions of the competent authorities and bodies of the State:

     -  The State, first and foremost through the National Organization for Public Health, shouldguarantee the validity of provided information, by all available means. The wide-impact mass media are also responsible for the quality of the information related to the pandemic.

     -  The Commission would like to praise the very high sense of duty, the consistency and the professionalism demonstrated, under these difficult conditions, by all the doctors and the healthcare professionals of the National Healthcare System.

In this context, the political order of the country should approach the pandemic issue in a common way as an opportunity for radical reorganization first and foremost of the National Healthcare System, which has undertaken, almost exclusively, the management of the problem. It is inevitable that, in the times in which we live, these crises will return and the public healthcare systems should be ready and efficient to deal with them. The individual responsibility of each of us is strengthened, particularly when we, as an organized society, are able to safeguard the last ones mentioned. 

 

 

Athens, 17th March 2020

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