Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings
Care has two main meanings. First, to be attached to something, to care about it and second, to look after or take care of something. The value of care in the context of global research ethics links more to the second use of the term. As a main priority, one should take care of those enrolled in research studies to the extent that one always prioritizes their welfare over any other goals. This care applies across disciplines, not just in medical research, and is also not restricted to human research participants. Researchers who take care to avoid negative impacts in their work will not 'helicopter' into a research area they are not familiar with, but will use systems of due diligence to ensure that risks are first assessed and taken care of. In an ideal case, researchers who take good care combine the two elements mentioned: they care about research participants, in the sense that they are important to them, and they feel responsible for the welfare of those who contribute to their research, or might suffer as a result of it (including animals and the environment).
- Article 12
Informed consent procedures should be tailored to local requirements to achieve genuine understanding and well-founded decision-making.
- Article 13
A clear procedure for feedback, complaints or allegations of misconduct must be offered that gives genuine and appropriate access to all research participants and local partners to express any concerns they may have with the research process. This procedure must be agreed with local partners at the outset of the research.
- Article 14
Research that would be severely restricted or prohibited in a high-income setting should not be carried out in a lower-income setting. Exceptions might be permissible in the context of specific local conditions (e.g. diseases not prevalent in high-income countries). If and when such exceptions are dealt with, the internationally acknowledged compliance commandment “comply or explain” must be used, i.e. exceptions agreed upon by the local stakeholders and researchers must be explicitly and transparently justified and made easily accessible to interested parties.
- Article 15
Where research involvement could lead to stigmatization (e.g. research on sexually transmitted diseases), incrimination (e.g. sex work), discrimination or indeterminate personal risk (e.g. research on political beliefs), special measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of research participants need to be agreed with local partners.
- Article 16
Ahead of the research it should be determined whether local resources will be depleted to provide staff or other resources for the new project (e.g. nurses or laboratory staff). If so, the implications should be discussed in detail with local communities, partners and authorities and monitored during the study.
- Article 17
In situations where animal welfare regulations are inadequate or non-existent in the local setting compared with the country of origin of the researcher, animal experimentation should always be undertaken in line with the higher standards of protection for animals.
- Article 18
In situations where environmental protection and biorisk-related regulations are inadequate or non-existent in the local setting compared with the country of origin of the researcher, research should always be undertaken in line with the higher standards of environmental protection.
- Article 19
Where research may involve health, safety or security risks for researchers or expose researchers to conflicts of conscience, tailored risk management plans should be agreed in advance of the research between the research team, local partners and employers.
The development of the Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 664771