Euthanasia in Africa: scoping review of empirical evidence

Jimoh Amzat, Kehinde kazeem Kanmodi, Abbas Ismail, Eyinade Adeduntan Egbedina

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Background and Aims
The core ethical perplexity is that physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia (PAS/E) contradicts the core value of medical practice which is about the duty of care to preserve life. While most arguments for and against euthanasia emerge from other continents, no African country legalizes or decriminalizes PAS/E. The essence of this scoping review is to collate evidence and scientific voices on euthanasia in Africa by synthesizing empirical articles on the subject in Africa.

In this scoping review, a systematic search of five electronic research databases—PubMed, SCOPUS, CINHAL Complete, Allied and Complementary Medicine (AMED), and APA PsycInfo—was conducted to identify relevant articles conducted in Africa on euthanasia. After deduplication with the Rayyan software, the retrieved literature were screened for eligibility, and only eligible articles were included in the review. Relevant data from these articles were extracted and analyzed using narrative synthesis.

Only 14 articles reporting empirical studies, conducted in Africa, and published in English, were included in the review after a rigorous screening process. The review shows a wide rejection of euthanasia, but there is not much resistance to passive euthanasia, that is, withholding/withdrawing life-saving medical care from a terminally ill patient, mostly due to advanced age of the patient and the incurability of the illness. Many factors, such as religion, profession, and age help in shaping the way an individual view and understand PAS/E. Professionals take the patient's clinical condition and sociocultural context into consideration when making decisions about end-of-life care. The sociocultural context did not favor PAS/E.

Euthanasia will continue to be a subject of controversy and debate in Africa and elsewhere. The majority of Africans hold the duty of care and preservation of life as the hallmark of medical practice, which informs the wide rejection of PAS/E.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalHealth Science Reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2023


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