Ethics of medical photography with children in developing countries
Fumbling through my inbox I noticed that BMC Medical Ethics published an article (open access) on the ethics of taking medicine-related photographs of children. Often you see photos of children in presentations at universities, particularly among faculty and students who have gone global, where for 'global' read: low-income countries with high disease burdens. Sometimes the photos are there for obviously medical purposes, e.g. to visually illustrate a morbidity, a symptom. But sometimes you wonder: some photos are just scene setting (and look a lot like tourist snapshots) and others look like decorative features of powerpoint slides, aiming to give a literally human face to some far flung region. And do those photographed know what happens to their images? Do they know that, in our new media landscape, it might be impossible to precisely track where their images may go and what may be done to them? When parents in low-income countries freely allow researchers to take pictures of their children, should that consent be taken au serieux?
The article is partly based on qualitative research, though only samples the views of a small number of researchers and medical practitioners in England who work in the developed world. It would be interesting to get opinions about the ethics of medical photography and push forward a robust debate on best ethical practices worldwide.