Health Ministry to supervise army medical experiments

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) welcome measures taken recently by the army to protect soldiers who participate in medical experiments.

doctors 224.88 (photo credit: )
doctors 224.88
(photo credit: )
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) on Tuesday welcomed measures taken recently by the army to protect soldiers who participate in medical experiments, the organization said in response to a brief presented by the state to the High Court of Justice. The brief came in reply to petitions by PHR and by a group of soldiers who participated in immunization experiments against anthrax. The petitioners charged that the experiments had been carried out without proper supervision and that the army had withheld information from the soldiers when it asked them to participate. "By agreeing to subordinate itself to the Health Ministry, the army has shown great progress in protecting the rights of soldiers," said PHR director-general Hadas Ziv. "However, in order to give them the best and fullest protection, which they deserve, the soldiers must be classified as a sensitive sector." By "sensitive sector," Ziv was referring to the fact that the soldiers belong to a hierarchical organization in which they are bound to obey their commanders' orders. According to rules governing human experimentation, participation in medical experiments must be voluntary. In its response to the petitions, the state informed the court that it was currently preparing legislation to bring order to the issue of human experimentation, including any conducted by the IDF Medical Corps. According to the proposed legislation, military experiments will be supervised and monitored by the Health Ministry, which they have not been thus far. Furthermore, the ministry and the medical corps are currently discussing a temporary arrangement, to remain in effect until the legislation is approved, whereby Health Ministry regulations will apply, with certain modifications, to human experiments conducted by the army. The state rejected PHR's demand that all experimentation in the army be suspended until the legislation is passed on the grounds that the experiments were too important to be temporarily halted. It also rejected a demand by both petitioners to appoint a government committee to investigate the approval, implementation and supervision of the anthrax antidote experiments. It said an outside committee established by the ethics bureau of the Israel Medical Association was currently examining the program, which has been concluded. The state agreed to the soldiers' demand to receive all the data relating to the experiment.