Research in global health emergencies: ethical issues
- To consider, in the light of recent developments, how research may ethically be conducted in global health emergencies, and how it may most appropriately be integrated into the wider response to such emergencies.
- To consider, in particular:
- the implications of the recognition that undertaking research can be an integral and necessary part of response to a global health emergency;
- the role of affected populations in shaping the role of research in emergency response, including recognising the potential for diverse views within those populations;
- the circumstances in which research activities during an emergency may offer the prospect of direct health benefit to participants, and the implications of this for ethical conduct of the research;
- whether there are circumstances in which the standard ethical requirements for the scrutiny and conduct of research should differ in emergencies; and if so, in what way, and with what justification;
- the ethical implications of the criteria for declaring a situation to constitute a ‘global health emergency’, and the implications for action before and after the period of the declared emergency if different ethical requirements are held to apply during emergencies; and
- the responsibilities of multiple stakeholders including research funders, the pharmaceutical industry and their insurers, non-profit organisations, intergovernmental bodies, and governments the diverse nature of what might constitute a global health emergency, including disease outbreaks, natural or industrial disasters, conflict, and widespread drug resistance;
- In considering the issues above, to take into account:
- the speed of innovation in research and research methods; and
- the nature of national obligations to assist those beyond their borders.
- To write a report and make recommendations to improve the contribution that ethically conducted research may make to emergency response in the future.