“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.

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!

On the 27nd May, The Global Health Network supported the first virtual 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.

Over 80 people registered to be members of this group and 85 attended the first team meeting from 40 different countries, shown below:

Current work:

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 fond here in the Epidemic Ethics HUB

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


  • tools to assist with community entry without compromising their safety and your safety during sensitizations.
  • develop tools and strategies that can help us pass information well without coercion and still manage to prevent the disease.
  • other study activities on other conditions like malaria, HIV etc will also need to continue and it will be prudent having these strategies and tools in place in readiness to work in an atmosphere of Covid19.


  • write up a piece on vulnerability and ethics
  • guidelines to address how data can be collected taken into consideration some of the public health guidance such as social distancing
  • initiate a discussion around 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

Discussion Forum

A discussion forum is available here for members of this Working Group to communicate


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


How to become part of this WG?

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