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Values have unifying and divisive factors in international professional action in the social work. As a result, social workers in all parts of the world advocate for loyalty to professional values and ethics in the society. Many countries have worked on their code of ethics and this has been reinforced by support from the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW). Currently, there are many critics suggesting that social work values and ethical codes are much grounded on the personal values to the exclusion of other perspectives that are western based. It is thus evident that issues of values and ethics are more complex and controversial as one gets towards different social and cultural settings (Lynne & Healy, 2001). To show how ethics in the social work differs in accordance to the settings, a case study of a precise rare disease and its patient in Brazil will be looked at.
Mucopolysaccharidosis type I (MPS I) is an uncommon lysosomal storage disorder that has a number of victims in Brazil. Its treatment involves transplanting of the bone marrow or the use of Laronidase which is a high cost orphan drug. Most of the MPS1 patients in Brazil are treated with Laronidase despite the lack of the government policy that regulates the accessibility of this drug. The model of bioethics by Beauchamp and Childress outlooks biomedical ethics as act of applying general ethical values to the matters of medical care and practice in Brazil. In this model justice is the most vital and relevant subject. This is due to the fact that heath related inequalities are extensive in Brazil and these include the orphan diseases, such as the MPS1, as was mentioned above (Meikles & Hopwood, 2005).
The Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS) is not competent to meet demands of the orphan diseases in its population. In addition, there are other issues that face this system, such as management of the available resources like the orphan drugs and the transplanting services. The SUS is loyally defended as a near-scared achievement and for this reason campaigns are in the process to have the system given an indefinable cultural heritage status. This is an implication that as a result of the ideological restraints, discussion of the primary issue in case of orphan drugs is not likely to be looked at. This is the major blow to patients who suffer from an uncommon disease MPS1 (Meikles & Hopwood, 2005).
On the basis that all people are equal above the law in Brazil, it would be a fair thing to provide health care services despite the condition. However, a patient suffering from the MPS1 has to go through the court system procedure in order to obtain treatment. Quite often in these legal cases the plaintiffs lose due to the ruling of legitimate law on the right to health and the right to life in Brazil. The National Association of Social Workers’ code of ethics on the value of social justice has an ethical principle that states that Social workers endeavor to guarantee access to the needed information, health care services and resources and consequential partaking in decision making. Also, the National Association of Social Workers’ Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice entail that social workers need to have knowledge regarding the culture of the customers that they serve (Lynne & Healy, 2001).
From the personal point of view, the concept of equity entails that distribution of resources needs to be planned in such a way to ensure reduction in the unfair allocation of resources. This will ensure that human rights of people with orphan diseases, such as the one mentioned above, will be respected. On the other side, the concept of equal opportunities should mean that no social benefits are supposed to be given on the ground of unjustifiable or unfair circumstances and no social benefits are supposed to be denied to an individual on the grounds of unjustifiable or unfair circumstances. Therefore, discrimination on the basis of characteristics which are either social or biological and obtained unwillingly at birth is not acceptable.
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