FIAMC Bio-Medical Ethics Centre Mumbai INDIA

(FIAMC: Federation Internationale des Associations Medical Catholique)
The FIAMC Bio-Medical Ethics Centre [FBMEC] was established in Bombay in September 1981 to study and debate the ethical status of various actions - experimental, diagnostic or therapeutic - in the bio-medical field within the ethic of culture, religion and the modern secular state. MORE

The Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees
His Eminence, Cardinal Oswald Gracias (Patron),
Bishop Percival Fernandez (Trustee),
Dr. Nicholas Antao (Managing Trustee),
Adv. Joaquim Reis (Addl. Managing Trustee),
Dr. Rouen Mascarenhas (Secretary),
Dr. Cedric Moraes (Treasurer),
Dr. Armida Fernandez (Trustee),
Dr. Enid Prabhu (Trustee),
Dr. Giselle Paes (Trustee),
Dr.Egbert Saldanha (Trustee),
Dr. C.J. Vas (Founder Member, Emeritus).

Executive Director:
Fr. Stephen Fernandes

Aims, Genesis of FIAMC

FIAMC Bio-Medical Ethics Centre(FIAMC: Federation Internationale des Associations Medical Catholique)
The FIAMC Bio-Medical Ethics Centre [FBMEC] was established in Bombay in September 1981 to study and debate the ethical status of various actions - experimental, diagnostic or therapeutic - in the bio-medical field within the ethic of culture, religion and the modern secular state.
Our Aims:
· to provide information and data to the medical profession on matters of ethical interest.
· to facilitate discussions and help reach appropriate conclusions in areas of ethical concern.
· to interact generally with society in ethical matters involving health care and medical services.
· to assist in the development of confidence by the profession in tune with equity and ethical values despite certain problems.
· to preserve, promote and protect life while accepting the fact that death is inevitable.
An Introduction
The practice of medicine is as old as civilisation and so is corruption. During the time of the Greeks, a call to do what was good and reject all that was bad was heeded by the 5th century physician, Hippocrates. His work and dedication, with that of his disciples, resulted in the Hippocratic Oath which was adopted by physicians from that time onwards but it was amended subsequently by the Christian tradition prevailing at the time. Other cultures and religious beliefs such as those of Judaism, the Indian vedic and Chinese traditions, Islam and the later humanist influences have all left their print on the subject of medical ethics.
In the past three centuries, the Anglo-Saxon influence on medical ethics has been considerable. There was the contribution of John Gregory (1724 - 1773) and later Thomas Percival followed by the various national associations, culminating in the Codes of Practice of the many international medical associations.
It is not surprising that with such a philosophical background, the medical profession has constantly engaged itself in arguments and disputations over a variety of issues related to life and death. Science has advanced very rapidly in the past 50 years. Indeed, it has been said that there has been relatively more progress in the past half century than in all the preceding centuries. This rapid growth of science, in medicine as in technology, at an exponential rate has created its own problems, as said by a philosopher recently: "Trouble with mankind today is that wisdom has not kept pace with science." If we compare Einstein with Archimedes, who have we today to compare with Plato. (We do not even have a Plato!)
The urge to know more and more - about the sciences and arts, nature, the environment, space and the world beyond, has emboldened human mortals to rush into areas where angels fear to tread. These developments have understandably raised doubts of a moral and ethical character. Paradoxes abound and the thin line between right and wrong can at times be scarcely distinguished. There are plenty of grey areas that call for ethical questioning: in-vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, human cloning, sperm banks; experiments on living foetuses, prisoners, the disabled and terminally ill, on the ageing and dying, raise very many questions which call for debate.
It was for this reason that the FIAMC Bio-Medical Ethics Centre [FBMEC] was established in Bombay in September 1981. Its role being to debate the legitimacy of experimentation and inquiry within the ethic of culture, religion and the modern secular state.
It would be pertinent at this stage to provide a brief account of the genesis, aims and objectives, functioning, failures and successes of the FBMEC. It was at the XIV World Congress of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations [FIAMC] held in Bombay in January 1978 that it was resolved to establish Bio-Ethics Centres for the association at convenient locations where the various traditions of the world would be represented. This duty fell on the shoulders of Dr. C. J. Vas who had just been elected Secretary General of the organization. After many unsuccessful attempts at starting the first such Centre in Europe, North America, and Australasia, it was decided in 1981 that it be initiated in India. Bombay was chosen for this activity with the Secretary General as the first Managing Trustee. At that time, it was the 6th Centre for medical ethics in the world and the first in Asia, Australasia and Africa.
A small group of interested individuals banded together and commenced work. A nationally prominent physician remarked: "What is ethics". He was not being facetious – but just very honest. Trustees of different faiths were appointed and these with their successors have guided the FBMEC over the years. Dr. C.J. Vas was its Founder and Managing Trustee who played a pioneering role in the FIAMC Bio-Medical Ethics Centre.Cardinal Simon Pimenta was the Founder Patron who put in a lot of efforts right from the inception of the Centre. His work was continued by His Eminence, Ivan Cardinal Dias for many years. Today, His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, is the Patron, and has taken an active role in guiding the Centre.
All the members of the FBMEC hold the utmost respect for life as it is God given. They believe that life has to be promoted, protected and preserved. Moreover, they uphold the command to care for one’s neighbour.


We are all aware of the tremendous advances being made in medical and health sciences. However, the benefit of this technology is not reaching the masses. The health situation in our country is in need of a lot of improvement. The Church affirms the intrinsic dignity and worth of every person, and in particular every sick person. On February 11, 2007, on the occasion of the sixteenth World Day of the Sick, Pope Benedict affirmed “that the Church turns her eyes to those who suffer and calls attention to the incurably ill, many of whom are dying from terminal diseases. They are found on every continent, particularly in places where poverty and hardship cause immense misery and grief…In hospitals, hospices and homes throughout the world we encounter the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are incurably and often terminally ill. In addition, many millions of people in our world still experience unsanitary living conditions and lack access to much-needed medical resources, often of the most basic kind. The Church wishes to support the incurably and terminally ill by calling for just social policies which can help to eliminate the causes of many diseases and by urging improved care for the dying and those for whom no medical remedy is available”.

In a particular way, we need to be concerned with the various ethical issues that seriously affect the health of our people – right from the first moment of conception until the end of life. Keeping this in mind, the F.I.A.M.C. Bio-Medical Ethics Centre has decided to start a newsletter entitled “Touching Lives”. This new initiative of the Centre would focus on healthcare issues which threaten and depersonalize human life. It would make an ethical analysis, in very simple language, of issues such as abortion, contraception, euthanasia, HIV/AIDS and child abuse and provide the teachings of the Church in these areas. In the light of public opinion being swayed by the mass media and other negative forces in society, there is an even greater need today to properly and effectively guide the consciences of people.

It is my hope that the newsletter will provide in-depth understanding and moral guidance of the ethical challenges in healthcare and thus serve those actively involved in hospital administration, medical centres, social work organizations and all health related bodies.

May Mary, Salus Infirmorum, comfort those who are ill and sustain all who have devoted their lives to healing the physical and spiritual wounds of those who suffer. May each of us truly follow the footsteps of Christ the Divine Healer and reach out to every sick and suffering person and touch their lives.

To each of you I joyfully impart my Blessing!

Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Patron, FIAMC Bio-Medical Ethics Centre, Mumbai