[Svrilist] Ethics and Research in Africa
svrilist at mrc.ac.za
svrilist at mrc.ac.za
Thu Apr 13 07:48:58 SAST 2006
Better Regulation Needed For Ethical Research In Africa
Article Date: 10 Apr 2006
Better regulation is needed to ensure that research carried out
in Africa and other developing countries is ethical, says an ex-
pert in this week's BMJ.
Although most developing countries adhere to international ethi-
cal codes, some foreign researchers have taken advantage of the
lack of local legislation and have ignored rudimentary local
statutes, writes Sylvester Chima of Northumbria University.
He describes recent cases of unethical conduct and argues that
local and regional regulatory frameworks and legislation are
needed to protect research participants in Africa.
He suggests that regulations could provide guidance on forming
local research ethics committees, informed consent procedures,
standards of care, and distributive justice (such as post-trial
benefits or compensation for injuries arising from research).
Such regulations have already been introduced in Western coun-
But he dismisses the argument that such regulations would dis-
courage drug trials in Africa.
The principles of respect for autonomy require that all people
have the opportunity to determine what is done to their own
body, in accordance with internationally recognised legal stan-
dards, he says. Research conducted contrary to these principles
takes advantage of patients whose only fault is that they live
in countries where research laws are lax and the quality of
medical care is poor.
The suggested approach should not lead to an exodus of research
sponsors from Africa. Instead it should encourage ethical con-
duct and provide a solid legal framework for future research in
Africa, designed to safeguard researchers and participants, he
"Experimental medicine and biomedical research will always be
hazardous but should be encouraged within a framework of respect
for autonomy, justice, and human rights. Ethical practice and
new advances in biomedicine are not mutually exclusive, he con-
-- Emma Dickinson BMJ-British Medical Journal mailto:edickinson at bmj.com
afro-nets-owner at healthnet.org
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