|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 6 | Page : 291-292
Research ethical committees and ethics dumping
Department of Psychiatry, Iqraa International Hospital and Research Centre, Kozhikode, Kerala, India
|Date of Submission||13-Oct-2022|
|Date of Decision||24-Nov-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||05-Dec-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||29-Dec-2022|
Dr. N A Uvais
Department of Psychiatry, Iqraa International Hospital and Research Centre, Kozhikode, Kerala
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Uvais N A. Research ethical committees and ethics dumping. Curr Med Res Pract 2022;12:291-2
Globalisation of research in recent times opened up immense opportunities for researchers working in developing as well as the developed world. Research partnerships between high-income and lower-income countries are often highly advantageous and productive for all stakeholders involved in research. However, this development also gave rise to unique ethical challenges. Ethics dumping is one of those ethical challenges, in which unethical research practices are exported to lower-income countries for various reasons. One of the main reasons behind ethics dumping is the intentional exploitation of research subjects belonging to lower-income countries to conduct research projects which cannot be conducted in high-income countries due to ethical reasons. Ethics dumping also can arise out of a lack of knowledge and awareness of researchers regarding research ethics. Moreover, the ethical committee requirements to conduct research studies vary considerably across countries. A recent study compared the ethics committee requirements for an anonymous survey study based on a case vignette among students across five high-income countries and found significant variation in ethical committee requirements from an exemption to full-fledged ethical committee deliberations before giving clearance for conducting the study. Such confusion regarding ethical requirements across countries also can contribute to a lack of understanding of local ethical requirements by researchers, leading to ethics dumping practices.
Ethical dumping practices can significantly harm research participants in various settings. Studies have documented that ethics dumping practices by researchers belonging to high-income countries resulted in serious exploitation of research participants belonging to lower-income countries including preventable deaths, lack of compensation for injuries and privacy violations. Considering the expanding nature of the global medical research enterprises, it is important to critically examine this issue to find out possible solutions to prevent ethics dumping practices.
The critical step in the prevention of ethics dumping practices is the creation of adequate oversight mechanisms in lower-income settings in the form of research ethics committees. It is the duty of the host research ethical committee to critically examine research proposals submitted by researchers from high-income countries to minimise the risk of ethics dumping. There are various mechanisms by which research ethics committees can effectively perform their obligations toward participants, society and researchers while evaluating a research proposal from high-income countries.
- Follow the Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings (GCC): The research ethical committee can follow the GCC in evaluating research protocols from high-income countries to counter research dumping practices. The GCC, which contains 23 short articles in simple language, demand that any research collaboration between high-income and lower-income setting should be guided by four fundamental moral values; fairness, respect, care and honesty. If properly utilised, the GCC can effectively guide and inspire researchers to act in an ethical manner while conducting research in lower-income countries, at all stages of research
- Involving concerned civil organisations while evaluating research proposals seeking permission to conduct research in special or vulnerable sections of the population: Research groups from high-income countries often submit proposals to study specific sections of the populations, such as indigenous groups, sex workers, sexual minorities or the mentally ill population. The research ethics committee can involve groups representing the target groups while evaluating the research protocol to promote fair and honest communication between researchers and the target population. Moreover, the representatives of the target population will also get opportunities to express their concerns and learn more about the benefits of the concerned research for their population
- Formulate accessible complaint procedures in advance: One of the important issues associated with research in lower-income countries is the absence of accessible complaint procedures to inform research-related injury of research participants for adequate attention and compensation. The absence of mechanisms for addressing research-related injury is one form of research dumping practice. The research ethical committee can proactively instruct researchers to create accessible complaint reporting mechanisms and effective response mechanisms before giving approvals for the study
- Educational activities for the researchers and target populations: The research ethical committee can conduct educational activities to improve the awareness of researchers regarding local ethical committee guidelines. The research ethical committee can conduct educational activities for the target population also to improve their understanding of their rights as research participants so that ethical dumping practices can be checked.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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