Call for input from bioethicists from the developing world

Michael Cook
23 Mar 2013
Reproduced with Permission

Who are the gatekeepers in bioethics? Does editorial bias or institutional racism exist in leading bioethics journals? In the latest issue of the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, an Indian academic and two US collegues have analyzed the composition of editorial boards of 14 leading bioethics journals by country.

About 95% of board members are based in countries which rank very high on the United Nation's Human Development Index (HDI). Fewer than 4% are from medium-HDI countries, and fewer than 1.5 percent are from low-HDI countries.

Eight out of 14 leading bioethics journals have no editorial board members from a medium- or low-HDI country. Eleven bioethics journals have no board members from low-HDI countries. "This severe underrepresentation of bioethics scholars from developing countries on editorial boards suggests that bioethics may be affected by institutional racism," they write.

"With bioethics increasingly part of the global landscape of health care - more so since the 2005 promulgation of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights - the lack of global representation on bioethics journal editorial boards undermines consideration of developing country experiences and knowledge, impoverishing global bioethics."