APRU Global Health Working Group Webinar: Bioethics and COVID-19

Date & Time
May 19 at 5 pm (Los Angeles) / 7 pm (Mexico City & Quito)
May 20 at 8 am (Hong Kong & Manila)/10 am (Sydney)
Duration: 2 hours



Bioethics is a key consideration during the COVID-19 crisis which touches on many areas affected by government and societal responses to this pandemic.

By engaging hundreds of people from around the world as we broadcast it over the APRU Zoom and Facebook platforms, APRU hosted a meaningful discussion of experts on Bioethics and Covid-19.

Experts from the APRU Bioethics Working Group formed under the auspice of the Global Health Program presented on key ethical challenges in relation to COVID-19 including resource allocation, stigma and discrimination, reproductive rights, mass surveillance, and aging.

A guided discussion of speakers and participants provided an opportunity for sharing insights and identifying activities on how to effectively address key ethical issues through a multi-disciplinary and cross-regional approach.



See presentation slides from Angus DawsonLeonardo De CastroMaría Medina-ArellanoCalvin Ho, and Jonathan Guillemot.

View recording here.

Additional materials:

  • Public Health Ethics: Cases spanning the global by Angus Dawson (web)
  • Age matters but it should not be used to discriminate against the elderly in allocating scarce resources in the context of COVID-19 by Leonardo D. De Castro (pdf)
  • The COVID 19 pandemic and ethics through the eyes of women (web), Dilemas del #QuédateEnCasa, Violence Calls 911 in Mexico, Ministry of Security (pdf), and Falso que 90% de llamadas de emergencia de mujeres no sean reales, como dijo AMLO (web) recommended by María Medina-Arellano
  • State and Professional Autonomy: Conflicting rights and obligations in the state-profession relationship by Calvin Ho
  • Ethical Guidelines for Leaders in Health Care Institutions during the Covid-19 Pandemic (pdf)
  • What is Inconvenient for You is Life-saving for Me: How health inequities are playing out during the COVID-19 Pandemic (pdf)


Mellissa Withers
Associate Professor, USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health

Mellissa Withers, Ph.D., MHS is an Associate Professor at thin the Department of Preventive Medicine. She is based at the USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health. She also is also Director of the Global Health Program of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, a non-profit network of more than 50 leading universities in the region. She received a Ph.D. from the Department of Community Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health with a minor in cultural anthropology. She also earned a Master’s in International Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a BA in international development from UC Berkeley. Her research interests lie in community participatory research, gender-based violence, and global sexual and reproductive health. Dr. Withers is the editor of two books: Global Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health Across the Lifecourse, and Global Health Leadership: Case Studies from the Asia-Pacific. She also writes a blog on human trafficking titled Modern-Day Slavery for Psychology Today.

Angus Dawson
Professor, University of Sydney

Angus Dawson is Professor of Bioethics and Director of Sydney Health Ethics at the University of Sydney, Australia. His main research interests are in public health ethics, research ethics, and methodology in bioethics. His work is increasingly focused on working with organizations to embed ethics into policy and everyday practice. He is currently writing a series of papers about key concepts in public health including solidarity, community, and trust as well as working on projects on Antimicrobial Resistance, Vaccine Prioritisation and the Ethics of Migration. He is the joint editor-in-Chief of the journal Public Health Ethics and was one of the editors of the casebook Global Perspectives on Public Health Ethics, which has been downloaded in full or in part nearly 300,000 times. You can download it for free here.

Leonardo D. De Castro
Professor, University of the Philippines, Diliman

Leonardo D. De Castro, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of the Philippines, Diliman, where he previously served as Department Chair for 9 years. He was Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Biomedical Ethics, National University of Singapore and Editor-in-Chief of the Asian Bioethics Review from 2008-2016. He chairs the Philippine Health Research Ethics Board, the agency responsible for promoting ethical health research in the country. He has served on the National Bioethics Advisory Committee and the National Transplant Ethics Committee. He has been President of the Asian Bioethics Association, Vice-Chair of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee, Vice-Chair of the Forum for Ethics Review Committees in Asia and the Pacific, and a Bioethics Consultant to the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the European Union and the European Commission. He represented the Philippines in the UNESCO Inter-Governmental Bioethics Committee.

María de Jesús Medina-Arellano
National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)

María de Jesús Medina-Arellano obtained her law degree from the Autonomous University of Nayarit, Mexico and the equivalent of an MPhil at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). During her postgraduate degree, she focused on the new paradigm of Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights in Mexico. She obtained her Ph.D. in Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence in 2012 from the School of Law (Centre for Social Ethics and Policy and the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation) at the University of Manchester. Her Ph.D. research focused on the regulation of stem cell research in developing countries. From 2013-2014, she worked as Deputy of the Judicial School in the Local Court of Justice in Nayarit. Since 2014, she has been a full-time researcher at the Institute for Legal Research at UNAM. She is also Deputy of the College of Bioethics, a civil association in Mexico that gathers scientists and physicians working in the area of bioethics from practical and academic perspectives. She is a member of the advisory board at the National Commission of Bioethics in Mexico (CONBIOÉTICA). She also coordinates the Diploma on Bioethics, Health and Law which is offered in the Institute for Legal Research.

Calvin Wai-Loon Ho
Associate Professor, University of Hong Kong

Calvin Wai-Loon Ho is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, as well as a member of the Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, of the University of Hong Kong. He is currently an Ethics Board member of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) and was the Co-Head of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Bioethics in Singapore (2014-2019). He holds a doctorate in juridical science from Cornell University (New York) and was also trained in law at the National University of Singapore and University of Cambridge (England). In addition, he read sociology and economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London). Dr. Calvin Ho’s research is primarily on the governance of health- and biomedical technologies, and more generally on medical law and ethics, as well as the normative aspects of health systems (especially on health insurance and access to health) and global health.

Jonathan R. Guillemot
Professor and Researcher, Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ)

Jonathan R. Guillemot is a professor and researcher in gerontology at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), Ecuador. Beyond his role as a lecturer, he is the director of the training programme of caregivers of older people. His interests include this sociology of aging (including caregiving attitudes towards older people and the political involvement of older people). His main ongoing research includes “osteoporosis drug selection processes in England and France”, “decision to protest among older indigenous people in Ecuador”, among others. He graduated in Gerontology at King’s College London, UK, and in Political Sociology at Universite de Lille 2, Lille, France.