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Barbados wants debate on euthanasia in the region

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jul 18, CMC – Barbados Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, Monday called for a regional debate on the issue of euthanasia and other health-related laws that involve the rights of the parties involved, as the Caribbean moves to reform its health sectors.

Addressing a two-day regional meeting being hosted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Brathwaite said “if we guarantee individuals the freedom of speech, the freedom of property, freedom of movement, should we not guarantee them also the freedom to choose to die, and die with dignity if they so desire”.

The strategy meeting is for “Health-Related Law: Sensitisation, Dissemination and Implementation in the English-Speaking Eastern Caribbean countries”.

Brathwaite who told the audience that his brother is “quite ill”, stressed that at some point, the Caribbean would have to address the issue where persons who are gravely ill are given the freedom to choose whether or not they want to die.

“We all accept that we are going to die, what we fear most is the process, and what we don’t want most is the suffering that we have seen many of our friends and family go through. It is a discussion that we should have as a region and as a country,” he said.

Brathwaite also called on stakeholders to closely examine the issue of organ donation.

“Should we not accept that as a modern country, within a modern context [that] we should make provisions for an individual to donate any or all of his organs upon death?”.

However, he noted that the appropriate legal framework would first need to be in place in order to ensure that the process was transparent and acceptable.

Another area singled out by the Attorney General for discussion was that of decriminalising small quantities of marijuana and urged medical professionals across the region to let their voices be heard on this matter.

“While the legal practitioners are saying let us decriminalise small quantities of marijuana because it is clogging up the legal system, we are not hearing the health professionals say the other side of the coin is you may be exposing more of our young people to risks. I would like to hear from the health professionals in this area across the region.”

The two-day meeting is designed to support member states in the process of reviewing, formulating and reforming national health-related laws and regulations. Special working group sessions will focus on the areas of mental health, HIV and road safety.

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