Ethox and WEH Seminar: Avoiding ethics dumping in global research - Looking for equitable partnerships

Prof. Doris Schroeder, Director Centre for Professional Ethics, UCLan, Lead Author of GCC
Joyce Adhiambo Odhiambo, Health Activist, former sex worker
Leana Snyders, Director South African San Council
Dr Joshua Kimani, Clinical Research Director, Nairobi

Ethics dumping is the practice of exporting unethical research to settings with less stringent regulations or compliance mechanisms. Ethics dumping includes, amongst others:

  • trying to obtain retrospective ethics approval,
  • ignoring or side-stepping local approval systems,
  • failing to compensate for harm incurred during a study,
  • undertaking high-risk research in settings, which may not benefit from the results,
  • commercializing samples without benefit sharing,
  • avoiding high animal welfare standards,
  • misinterpreting existing standards of care.

New developments:
To achieve fair partnerships in research is the aim of the Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-

Poor Settings (GCC). The GCC provides guidance to researchers of all disciplines and focuses especially on research in resource poor-settings. The GCC has bite through its adoption by both the European Commission and the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). Those in receipt of research funds have to demonstrate that they abide by the GCC, see recent NATURE article. What is widely regarded as a major achievement of the GCC is that vulnerable research populations in low and middle income countries (LMICs), in particular indigenous peoples from the Kalahari and sex workers from Nairobi, were represented throughout the drafting process.