Can doctors be used in warfare?

2011-09-29 14:11

Johannesburg - An inquiry into the conduct of cardiologist Wouter Basson will shed light on whether governments can use doctors as instruments of warfare, the SA Medical Association (Sama) said on Thursday.

"This inquiry is not about whether he was involved or not. The issue at hand is whether he overstepped the boundaries of medical ethics in becoming involved," Sama chairperson Dr Norman Mabasa said in a statement.

"The matter is significant in that it will shed light on the debate of whether medical practitioners can be used by government in power as instruments of warfare."

The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) inquiry is probing Basson’s conduct while he was head of the apartheid government's chemical and biological weapons programme.

The HPCSA has brought six charges of unethical or unprofessional conduct against him.

They relate to alleged human rights abuses Basson committed during the apartheid era.

Mabasa said Sama believed the hearing would also help "establish whether doctors can get involved in biological warfare projects as a call of duty to their government".

Sama said it would seek to ensure that Basson's hearing was conducted in a fair manner.

"It is beyond our mandate to make any judgment, only the HPCSA can make the final decision," Mabasa said.

"Basson must, however, be presumed innocent until proven guilty by the HPCSA."

Basson's hearing would continue in Pretoria on Thursday.

  • Mr D - 2011-09-29 14:21

    Good Man, Good soldier, Good Doctor. Whe u are in need with a heart attach you want Basson standing over u. Let him be he did only but good to all of us...ok, thats not good enough u said, hang him but then also hang the low call scum who planter bombs on the stations and farm dirt roads, or let it be and lets move on....

      daaivark - 2011-09-29 15:06

      "he did only but good to all of us"..... WHAT!!!!!

      Stevie - 2011-09-29 15:17

      Like the article said, this is not about whether he was involved or not, but whether governments have the right to use doctors for weapons programmes as these, I presume, would violate their Hippocratic oath and thus have ramifications for their civilian practices. Basson is just an example of such a case.

      Stevie - 2011-09-29 15:24

      However, I also realise that the masses, especially those of the communist persuasion, do so LOVE their little witch-hunts...

      kalabafazi - 2011-09-29 15:42

      Most countries have chemical or bilogical weapons or at least the capabilities to build one. These weapons cannot be developed by a plumber, carpenter, miner or farmer. Their development depends on someone with a medical doctorate. I doubt whether it's ethical but Basson sure as hell is not the only one who practiced / practicing the develoment of dirty bombs.

      Eddie V - 2011-09-29 16:08

      Are these SAMA guys for real? Can doctors be used in warfare? Wtf? What fairy tale dream world do you live in if you think they ARE NOT used for warfare. Basson was ordered to do what he did by the old government. If he refused, it's treason. What will you do? Every country in the world uses doctors for warfare. Wouter is actually a really nice guy and it will do more damage to suspend his license than good. He is an excellent doctor. @ Aardvark, this is a witch hunt. What do you think people like Steve Beko, Nelson Mandela and other ANC members did before 94? They ALSO killed people, lots of people and they have hospitals and streets named after them and become president. We were ALL victims of the apartheid era. It just seems that if you are black, you're a hero. And if you're white you STILL have to pay for things that happened years and years ago, innocent or not. How about having some of our current politicians stand trial at a truth and reconcilliation comittee for crimes commited in the apartheid era??? The cabinet will be empty.

  • Swart_Baas - 2011-09-29 14:22

    new rules now, why? why subject the dude to this! if rules need to be revisited - then do that and leave the dude alone...hypocrites!

  • Mswati - 2011-09-29 15:00

    You have been saying the same thing over and over and now you sound like a broken record.

      daaivark - 2011-09-29 15:06

      I agree, and the turntable turns all unevenly..... wah wah wah...grrts.

  • daaivark - 2011-09-29 15:05

    Of course they can, and DO..... and have done for a long time. Whether it is ethical or not is the question, and of course the degree to which that docotr is culpable.

  • Ingie - 2011-09-29 15:05


      Tolerant - 2011-09-29 15:23

      This is the HPCSA that is taking him to "court" by the inquiry. He was found not guilty by open court, but the HPSCA is much more strict. He will probably be suspended for 3 months at least (I hope not).

      Atholl - 2011-09-29 16:29

      Since 1948 (after WWII) All doctors swear a hipocratic oath to use their skill for the benefit of all patients equally. The oath based on the Geneva Declaration for medicine includes to: 'maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of its conception, even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity;' One of the reasons for the declaration was the Nazi war tactics to use medicine to neutralize opponents and to medically subdue prisoners in the C-camps - ...{to nullify natural human resistance to a threat}.... The issue with this "Dr Evil" is that what he did (like the nazis) ---- was wrong --- benefited someone at the expense of another -- he knew it was wrong --- If this person is allowed to continue practising then it sets a precedent for any current or future medical practitioner to take any oath and then: ... wrongfully ... beneficially .... knowingly .. ...........{to nullify natural human resistance to a threat} ........... Everytime anyone discovers a 'patient' who is (dispensed) with Mandrax, Ecstasy etc. then consider the 'advanced science' of Dr Evil.

  • Straightdeal - 2011-09-29 15:05

    He was using his knowledge of chemicals and biological weapons during a time of a war raging in Angola. This was over and above his qualification as a doctor. He was not breaking any rules of the medical profession.

      Mswati - 2011-09-29 15:42

      Are you sure?

      Eddie V - 2011-09-29 16:12

      Mswati, learn some history before you start judging. Oh I forget, the history your goverment feeds you these days all go in the line of WHITE = BAD, BLACK = GOOD. Get a clue please, you and your boetie Aardvark.

  • Badballie - 2011-09-29 15:05

    The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) = ANC supporters, the only reason this is even an issue is revenge and nothing else. Doctors in every military force in the world are involved to some degree with the development of weapons and biological agents some doing so full time. Once again the double standard that has become South Africa rears itsa ugly head. it not OK to help develop weapons as a doctor but its OK for members of parliament to have been involved with the planting of bombs in supermarkets, school and other soft target area's

      Mswati - 2011-09-29 15:59

      Do you have the evidence or you are just releasing your hot air as always

      Swart_Baas - 2011-09-29 16:10

      the ANC HPCSA is a stupid, useless body, full of hypocrites. it needs to be scrapped. what would these idiots do if they were to get orders from their seniors if lets say they were in the military? disobey them, fukken muppets!

      Eddie V - 2011-09-29 16:49

      Mswati, you should rather keep your trap shut. It will hide the fact that you don't know a thing about the history of your country.

  • - 2011-09-29 15:09

    Ban doctors from practising during warfare 'cos they cause the "chemically" composed human beings to be "repaired" and sent back to the front fight fight another day. Chemical warfare or not I ask you? It is not the chemicals that kill you it's the users thereof. If they weren't supplied with the stuff they wouldn't able to use it. (By the way ban pool chemicals and diesel etc etc - I believe they make a fearsome bombs with such ingredients!)

  • djaggalas babbelas - 2011-09-29 15:10

    Would be great to have no one involved in weapons manufacturing. No Doctors, scientists, rocket scientists, etc. Why pick on him. War is war, weapons meant to cause pain and even death for those of you who did not know. What is the purpose of a bullet, to tickle you?

  • Ingie - 2011-09-29 15:24


  • Analyst - 2011-09-29 15:32

    Not that I care for this guy but isn't it the HPCSA that couldn't find any problem with Shaik's "terminally ill" condition?

      Ingie - 2011-09-29 15:34

      yup think you right thats why I said earlier he should all of a sudden get high blood pressure or a mental disease then there would be no trial.

  • Dr. No - 2011-09-29 15:54

    Oppenheimer was a Doctor of sorts and should also have been held to the highest ethical standards, yet he was used to create the deadliest weapon ever conceived by man. USA was at war and justified their atom bomb along these lines. He was a national hero to the people of America. Basson worked for a government that was itself at war (however unjustified it may look in the rear view mirror) and as such should be left alone to be the outstanding Doctor I believe he is. Because the enemy combatants eventually got hold of power they now want to charge him. This is malicious prosecution at its finest. Basson has nothing but his own conscience to answer to, let it be and we can all get on with building this nation.

  • Angel - 2011-09-30 20:45

    News24 is sick!! Why the hell would they force people to join facebook???? Another government thing? Oh and don't forget it is called "an upgrade" Cheers

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