Since the publication of the first version of the Declaration of Helsinki in 1964, the role of overseeing ethics in research has been attributed to research ethics committees (RECs). They initially focused on the autonomy of participants, the protection of privacy and confidentiality, and informed consent.
But these days, research ethics is a rapidly evolving field, which should listen to the voices of all researchers, individual participants and research communities. For RECs that oversee global health research, it is also critical to consider and mitigate the possible power imbalances in global health.
Recent guidelines value concepts and principles like fair research partnership, benefit sharing, community engagement, protection of data collectors in the field, fair policies and practices for sharing research data and BioSamples, and fair dissemination practices. Increasing attention is given to the ethics challenges of research conducted during outbreaks and other public health emergencies. These guidelines include, among others:
2016 International ethical guidelines for health-related research involving humans (Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences, CIOMS)
Research in global health emergencies: ethical issues (Nuffield Council on Bioethics)
Good Participatory Practice (GPP) Guidelines (Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, AVAC)
Global Code of Conduct (The Code)
Bridging research integrity and global health epidemiology (BRIDGE) statement: guidelines for good epidemiological practice (published in BMJ Global Health)
The Ottawa Statement on the Ethical Design and Conduct of Cluster Randomized Trials (published in PLOS Medicine)
Furthermore, it is increasingly recognised that research institutions and individual researchers are responsible for integrating ethical standards and integrity in their institutional policies and personal values and behaviours.
Dive into the world of research ethics
Research governance at ITM
The Institutional Review Board of ITM is committed to raising ethics reflection and awareness, both inside and outside the institute. They are well-informed of current developments in research ethics, and provide formal training as well as informal advice for ITM researchers and students. Their current review template is inspired by the 2016 International ethical guidelines for health-related research involving humans of CIOMS.