Developing World Bioethics
Volume 19, Issue 2 Pages: 61-122 June 2019
Considerations for community engagement when conducting clinical trials during infectious disease emergencies in West Africa
Morenike Oluwatoyin Folayan, Dan Allman, Bridget Haire, Aminu Yakubu, Muhammed O. Afolabi, Joseph Cooper
First Published: 15 November 2018
Community engagement in research, including public health related research, is acknowledged as an ethical imperative. While medical care and public health action take priority over research during infectious disease outbreaks, research is still required in order to learn from epidemic responses. The World Health Organisation developed a guide for community engagement during infectious disease epidemics called the Good Participatory Practice for Trials of Emerging (and Re‐emerging) Pathogens that are Likely to Cause Severe Outbreaks in the Near Future and for which Few or No Medical Counter‐Measures Exist (GPP‐EP). This paper identified priorities for community engagement for research conducted during infectious disease outbreaks drawing on discussions held with a purposive sample of bioethicists, social scientists, researchers, policy makers and laypersons who work with ethics committees in West Africa. These perspectives were considered in the light of the GPP‐EP, which adds further depth and dimension to discussions on community engagement frameworks. It concludes that there is no presumptive justification for the exclusion of communities in the design, implementation and monitoring of clinical trials conducted during an infectious disease outbreak. Engagement that facilitates collaboration rather than partnership between researchers and the community during epidemics is acceptable.