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The International Association of Bioethics is pleased to announce the 2021 winner of the “Award for Bioethics Service in the Face of Challenges”, Dr. Amar Jesani. The award recognizes individuals who have championed local, national, and/or international efforts, sustained over a period of time, that advance bioethics or put bioethics into action, mobilizing knowledge into impact, and doing so in the face of challenges. Amar’s record – spanning medical ethics, public health ethics, and research ethics – is a shining example of the bioethics work that this award is meant to recognize.
As an undergraduate student in Vadodara, in Gujarat state in India in the 1970s, Dr. Jesani became involved in the student movement against corruption and price-rise and worked with the urban poor and trade unions. After graduation, he made Mumbai his base, where he conducted extensive research in the field of healthcare policy, services, and public health in non-profit institutions. He joined Medico Friend Circle (MFC), a groups of socially conscious health activists, in the early 1980s, taking up issues on medical malpractices and the role of health professions in human rights violations.
In the 1990s, along with other colleagues, he was involved in the fight against corruption in the medical profession and its leadership, and co-founded the Forum for Medical Ethics Society. Their work led to the production of a newsletter, Medical Ethics, which has since become the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, a prestigious multi-disciplinary academic journal aiming to “strengthen the hands of those with ethical values and concern for the under-privileged”. The journal continues to flourish for nearly three decades, despite lacking institutional support and funding, and being run by part-time paid staff and volunteers.
In 1994, Amar co-founded and was the first Director of a non-profit health research & action institution, CEHAT (Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes), that promoted research and training in bioethics. He is also recognized as a champion of the rights of women and girls, research and training on reproductive health, and gender-based violence, that culminated in the establishment of the first public hospital-based crisis center for women in Mumbai. His contributions extend to research ethics, again with particular concern for the vulnerable, especially research participations in low-income countries.
Since 2005, Amar has participated in the organisation of eight national bioethics conferences (NBCs) and the IAB’s World Congress of Bioethics (2018). He thus made significant contributions in facilitating the development of bioethics as an academic discipline in India.
Amar has a lengthy record of publication, including several books. He held several faculty appointments. He is currently a visiting Professor at the Yenepoya (DeemedToBe) University in Mangalore, an Adjunct Faculty at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), New Delhi and Associate Faculty at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Culture, Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, in Karachi (Pakistan). He also serves in a wide range of consultant roles.
The IAB Board could not be more delighted to have Dr. Amar Jesani as this year’s Award recipient!
Please join us in offering him our congratulations and in thanking him for his tremendous contribution to bioethics and to underprivileged populations over the years!