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REACH is an empirical research ethics study in global health, now in its fourth and final year. In this project we set out to address important gaps in research ethics guidance for those working with vulnerable populations in low resource, high disease burden settings typical of much of global health research. At the heart of the study are six qualitative case studies, where our bioethics teams were linked to or embedded within ongoing clinical research studies in coastal Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and in the rural border regions of Thailand. The bioethics teams engaged research teams throughout daily research over time, to better understand what ethical issues arise along the typical research pathway—from study design, to post-study activities. We also engaged research participants and community members to better understand experiences of daily challenges in their own words, sources of specific vulnerabilities, sources of support, and how these manifested in research participation. Findings across these diverse sites help illuminate significant blind spots in how research ethics has traditionally thought of ‘vulnerability’ as an ethical concept, with implications for the practical ethical obligations of researchers working in low resource settings. I will share highlights on behalf of our team, including implications for how we think about ancillary care duties, moral distress, research benefits, and the intersectional nature of vulnerability and respect for agency. I will also offer reflections on the ethical role of research in low income settings—including its purpose and limits as a substitute for health systems development or humanitarian interventions. 

Forthcoming events

Infectious Disease Seminar Series: Evidence on the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions

Monday, 12 June 2023, 1pm to 2pm @ BDI/OxPop Building Seminar Room LG 0-1, Old Road Campus, Headington, OX3 7LF

Alcohol phenotypes and how they are related to fMRI derived brain health measurements

Tuesday, 13 June 2023, 11am to 12pm @ Big Data Institute LG 0 Seminar room

Folic acid fortification and disease prevention

Tuesday, 13 June 2023, 1pm to 2pm @ Richard Doll Lecture Theatre, Richard Doll Building, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

Infectious Disease Seminar Series: 40 years of combating meningococcal disease: are we nearly there yet?

Monday, 19 June 2023, 1pm to 2pm @ BDI Seminar Room LG 0-1, Old Road Campus, Headington, OX3 7LF

Environmental sensing and it’s association with chronic disease

Tuesday, 11 July 2023, 11am to 12pm @ Big Data Institute LG 0 Seminar room