The Steve Biko affair: a case study in medical ethics

Dev World Bioeth. 2003 May;3(1):77-95. doi: 10.1111/1471-8847.00060.


Steve Biko died in detention in South Africa in 1977. Critical ethical issues are raised both by the conduct of the doctors responsible for Biko's care and by the subsequent response of the medical profession as a whole. Because those issues are relevant to all healthcare professionals everywhere, the Biko affair provides a useful case study in medical ethics. We discuss the case in this article, describing how we use it in our teaching.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Case Reports
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Blacks*
  • Brain Injuries / therapy*
  • Complicity*
  • Ethics, Medical / education*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Patient Care / ethics*
  • Patient Care / standards*
  • Physician's Role
  • Physicians*
  • Prejudice
  • Prisoners*
  • Professional Misconduct*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Societies, Medical / ethics
  • South Africa
  • Torture*

Personal name as subject

  • S Biko