Research in global health emergencies: ethical issues


Published 28/01/2020

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Following a two-year international inquiry, we issued a Call for Action to research funders, governments, and others involved in health research systems for a more ethical and collaborative approach to conducting research during emergencies.

The Call for Action is as follows:

We want to maximise the contribution that scientifically robust, ethical research can make to improving the health of people affected by emergencies.

We are issuing a call for action to research funders, governments and others to:

  • Ensure that research is not supported unless the basic health needs of research participants are being addressed through the response effort. Research funders will need to work in partnerships with humanitarian organisations and ministries of health to ensure this.
  • Invest in putting community engagement mechanisms into emergency research to make them a reality. In the longer term, engagement must be a central part of local healthcare systems to ensure sustainability and preparedness.
  • Promote fair and equitable collaborations between research organisations, particularly between external research institutions and their local partners in high- and low-income settings.
  • Support emergency planning - including securing robust health and health research systems - given the vital importance of properly resourced preparedness between emergencies.

The Call for Action is supported by international research institutions and organisations including:

  • International Rescue Committee
  • The African Academy of Sciences
  • Wellcome
  • Médecins Sans Frontières UK
  • London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Elrha - a global humanitarian research charity
  • Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz)
  • Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action
  • University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division
  • Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Read the news story and the press release (published 28 January 2020).