“There is an ethical imperative to conduct research during public health emergencies, as some research questions can be adequately investigated only in emergency contexts. Since the 2003 SARS outbreak, the 2009-2010 H1N1 influenza pandemic, and the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, guidance has been produced on how to conduct ethical research during emergencies.” (WHO)

The ongoing establishment of The Global Health Network's 'COVID-19 Working Groups' aims to address the discussion and gather consensus on the emerging COVID-19 research gaps across low-resource settings. This working group is set up to work around ways to enable discussions on Ethics and Community Engagement.

Over 200 researchers from across the globe working or wanting to work in Ethics and Community Engagement have come together in this group to discuss ideas, form collaborations, access funding as well as share outputs and resources that others can use. There is so much experience that can be applied here - let's use that to help this immediate need to supporting research everywhere there are cases, now!

Current work

On the 27nd of May, The Global Health Network supported the first virtual team meeting for the ‘Ethics and Community Engagement Open Working Group’. The meeting was organised in response to questions raised in COVID-19 workshops which highlighted the need for greater discussion of the impact that COVID-19 pandemic and how to conduct research studies following ethical codes and egaging the communities.

Following this first meeting, suggested starting point from this first call is the joint creation of tools and resources to support researchers in LMICs. 

There are so many nations represented in this group that it would be incredibly useful and interesting. Starting points could be:

1) to gather a collective pool of ethical resources. If anyone has access to ethical guidelines, please send them in! A database of ethics resources (including guidance and policy) can be found here in the Epidemic Ethics HUB

2) Brains storm ideas /create sub working groups around:

  • vulnerability and ethics.
  • ethics preparedness, the variation in the ethics review processes, analysing if we have been in right track or we could have responded differently in an efficient manner to facilitate ethical review in multinational multicentre researches.

Following this first meeting, team leaders met on the 20th of July. At the moment 2 projects are ongoing.

  • A discussion paper: 'COVID-19 and vulnerable populations': A discussion paper has been draft by one of the leaders. The rest of the team leaders have now given feedback to the first draft. A meeting was held on the 20th of August to discuss further (minutes here). One of the leaders has worked to incorporate these and has presented the result to the other team coordinatos on the 7th of Septembre. A zoom call will be hosted to present the results to the larger group and receive feedback.
  • Ethical review preparedness in LMICS: The coordination team aim at generating a dialogue to understand the capacity of ethical review carried out by ethical review boards or institutional review boards in global emergencies.  For this, the coordination team proposed  a series of workshops addressing ethical preparedness.Team leaders met on the 5th of August to stard discussions and shape an outline. A survey was disseminated to the members of the group to decide top 3 priorities (results here). A following meeting was held on the 20th of August to discuss the survey results and how to proceed (minutes can be found here). After identifying the top 3 priorities, a second survey was launched on the 26th of August to invite expression of interest of the larger group to see if  other members would like to share their relevant experiences in the workshops. Results of this second survey were sent to the Coordination team on the 7th of September and the team will meet to discuss.

Update on this will be posted soon.


Discussion Forum

A discussion forum is available here for members of this
Working Group to communicate.
Join the discussion and get involved!

Ethics and Community Engagement Resources

As part of the COVID-19 Research Implementation Hub,
on this page you will find links to universal ethical standards as well as key resources and tools to ensure ethical research during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Working Documents

Here you are able to find all the working documents from the different WGs for you to comment on  

Become part of this Working Group

If you are interesting please register here and we will be in touch!

We look forward to hearing back from you and hope we can work together to support a strong and equitable global research response during this Pandemic