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Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Sydney Law School holds Global Health and the Law conference

The pitfalls of Australia’s boom in medical tourism, the ongoing struggle to deliver HIV prevention and treatment, the lax regulation of alcohol advertising and the complexities of managing tuberculosis are among the ethically and legally challenging that were discussed at Sydney Law School‘s Global Health and the Law conference held Sept. 30 – Oct. 1.

University of Sydney Law School

Sydney Law School building

The conference brought together legal and medical experts from around the nation to discuss health issues that transcend borders and impact on our well-being.

Highlights included Sydney Law School PhD candidate Louise Cauchi, who offered a snapshot of the health risks presented by the medical tourism industry. An estimated 15,000 Australians spend about $300 million a year on cosmetic procedures performed abroad but these operations—particularly breast surgery—increasingly require remediation when patients return home.

Bridget Haire from the University of Sydney‘s Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM) chaired a panel on the ongoing struggle to deliver HIV prevention and treatment where the human rights of people most at risk of HIV are increasingly threatened, not only by violence, but by the criminalization of homosexuality and sex work.

The need to tighten and enforce regulations around alcohol advertising, especially the marketing of alcohol to young drinkers, was addressed in a session chaired by Professor Roger Magnusson from Sydney Law School. “Commitments to restrict the marketing of alcohol to younger drinkers are voluntary on the part the alcohol industry, which is less than committed to minimizing the harm caused by alcohol consumption,” he said.

The risks and challenges of managing tuberculosis was the topic for a hypothetical to be moderated by the Director of VELiM, Associate Professor Ian Kerridge. In particular, multi-drug resistant TB raises a number of ethical and legal questions including how to protect the rights and autonomy of individual patients while protecting the wider community from the disease.

Gene patenting, surrogacy and cross border reproduction, and the global regulation of therapeutics will also be discussed at Global Health and the Law: Incorporating Theory into Practice.


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