Ethics are defined by the moral principles that govern an individual and any organization. “Ethic defines the elements essential to human well-being and proposes principles to be used as guidelines for generating an ethical culture. Ethics also refers to the specific values, standards, rules, and agreements people adopt for conducting their lives” (Washington Ethical Society). Ethics is based on principles. “Ethical principles are basic and obvious moral truths that guide deliberations and action. Ethical principles include: Autonomy; Beneficence; Non-maleficence; Veracity; Confidentiality; Justice; and Fidelity” (Margaret 2007).
Culture is the characteristics of a group. Those characteristics include, but not limited to behavior; intelligence; language, work. “Culture refers to the total lifeways of a group of interacting individuals, consisting of learning patterns of values, beliefs, behaviors, and customs shared by that group (Engebretson & Headley, 2005; Hopkins, 1997; Leininger & McFarley, 2002). These learned patterns are transmitted from one generation to the next in formal ways, such as through education settings, and in informal ways, such as through role modeling” (Margaret 2007). The culture of organizations describes the values and behaviors of those organizations.
The characteristics of an ethical community are the same as the general principles of ethics. In Ethics community; people will develop aforementioned principles: Autonomy; Confidentiality; justice and Fidelity. People will also participate in the decision making process. People in the community or in their organizations would act with integrity. In organizations or in the Communities, the decision making process should obey to the basic but fundamental concepts of Ethical decision making. Margaret (2007) said: “Four basic features constitute every type of decision. First, a problem must exist. Second, there must be at least two alternative solutions from which to choose. Third, every action implies uncertainty. Fourth, every implemented decision, combined with the uncertainties, brings about an outcome. The healthcare system is highly based on ethics and their principles. I mean that healthcare is governed by ethics more than any other organization.
The characteristics of just culture community are based on organizations or communities’ beliefs and their values. Those characteristics can be formal or informal. The concept of just culture is based on the way an organization handles safety. “The concept of a fair and just culture refers to the way an organization handles safety issues. Human are fallible; they make mistakes. In a just culture, ‘hazardous’ human behavior such as staff errors, near-misses and risky actions are identified and discussed openly in hopes of finding ways to improve processes and systems – not to identify and punish the individual” (Joseph Pepe & Peter J. Cataldo 2011). The same author said: “The moral imperative is to deliver the safest health care by taking account of human fallibility and the imperfections of the system.”
Even though different; I believe that there are similarities between ethical community and just culture community. Both are taking into account integrity; safety. Their goal is not to blame, but their goal is to address and improve patients’ safety. One of the best examples of ethical community is the Ethical Community Charter School in New York. According to that school’s website; “The Ethical Community Charter School is a safe and caring community where ethics, service, and social justice are the principle that inform every aspect of school life; where teachers lead and collaborate with students in a culture of rigorous academics and mutual respect; where analytical thinking and creativity are prized; where children become individuals of integrity, insight, autonomy – and socially productive citizens, workers, leaders.
Ethics and Culture are important in nutrition. Every food must appropriately be labelled before market it. The expiration date and the composition must be clearly displayed. That requirement is sometimes very challenging in developing countries since the food control is far away to be efficient. The nutrition also, obeys frequently to the cultural considerations. The restriction of some food is observed in some religious and cultural communities. That concept should be taken into account when providing food to people.
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Mohamed Elmahady CAMARA