The Global Health Bioethics Network is a collaborative partnership between the Wellcome Major Overseas Programmes in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand-Laos, and Vietnam, and the Ethox Centre at the University of Oxford. The Network is funded by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award (096527). It has three aims: to promote and support ethical reflection across the MOPs and their research partners in a wide range of other low-income countries; to build the capacity of the MOPs and their partners to identify and address ethical issues in their research; and to facilitate and support ethics research.
The Network is an effective and responsive platform for the achievement of high ethical standards in global health research. Reflecting the three aims set out above, and building on a well-established set of institutional connections and commitments to working together, the platform comprises three core activities: capacity- building; support for and co-ordination of ethics research; and the provision of ethics advice to scientific researchers. These activities are closely related and interdependent.
At the heart of the Network’s capacity building activities is its innovative Ethics Bursary Scheme, which is a peer-reviewed mechanism for the provision of small grants to enable early-career researchers in low-income countries to conduct small scale, locally relevant research projects with local and international mentorship. The bursary scheme is complemented by an Annual Summer School, which provides additional support and training for bursary holders, a space for the generation of collaborative research projects, peer support for more senior researchers, and ethics clinics for scientists. Summer schools have taken place every year since 2012, each attracting around 50 delegates from around 20 countries reflecting the many research partnerships of the MOPs. In addition to the Summer School, the Network also runs regional training workshops in research methods and on practical ethical issues in global health. Through this work, the Network has obtained funding for PhD studentships and postdoctoral research positions at each of the MOPs.
FACILITATING AND COORDINATING ETHICS RESEARCH
The Network provides a robust and flexible platform for ethics research in two main ways. Firstly, through its bursary scheme important locally-relevant research ideas are identified and nurtured as small ‘seed’ projects, with the aim that these will go on to form the basis for grant applications for larger projects or PhD projects. Secondly, through the institutional connections and commitments to working together it has established, the Network has proved itself capable of generating collaborative research in global health bioethics with international impact.
ETHICS SUPPORT AND ADVICE
The third component of the Network’s research platform is the provision of timely ethics support and advice for the scientists at the MOPs and their research collaborators. This is provided in many different ways. Perhaps the most innovative of these has been the ethics clinics where scientists present their work and, together with members of the Network, identify, analyse and address practical ethical issues in workshop sessions. The Network also provides ethics training days for researchers and local ethics committees.
The Global Health Bioethics Network is co-ordinated by the Ethox Centre at the University of Oxford. For more information about the Network and its activities, please contact Dinnah Bogecho on firstname.lastname@example.org or Mike Parker on email@example.com