Laws and regulations associated with ownership of human biological material in South Africa

Kishen Premduth Mahesh


Ownership with regard to human biological material (HBM) is addressed to some extent within South African law, specifically in chapter eight of the National Health Act (NHA) and its associated regulations. However, members of the legal fraternity struggle to conceptualise ownership of such materials without objectifying a person or people and risking reducing such individuals to a state of property. This then infers a reduction in human dignity by rendering one-self or parts of that same self as a commodity. The complexity of the issue raises much debate both legally as well as ethically. 

Author's affiliations

Kishen Premduth Mahesh, Medical scientist, Academic co-ordinator, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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National Health Act; Human Genetics; Patenting; Biological Material; Ownership

Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2015;8(1):11. DOI:10.7196/SAJBL.354

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-08-30
Date published: 2015-05-15

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