Open Access Commentary

Engaging with research ethics in central Francophone Africa: reflections on a workshop about ancillary care

Tomi Tshikala1, Bavon Mupenda2, Pierre Dimany2, Aime Malonga2, Vicky Ilunga1 and Stuart Rennie34*

Author Affiliations

1 Kinshasa School of Public Health, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa, Congo

2 Center Interdisciplinaire de Bioéthique pour l’Afrique Francophone (CIBAF), Kinshasa School of Public Health, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa, Congo

3 UNC Center for Bioethics, Universtity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

4 Department of Social Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

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Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 2012, 7:10  doi:10.1186/1747-5341-7-10

Published: 6 August 2012

Abstract

Research ethics is predominantly taught and practiced in Anglophone countries, particularly those in North America and Western Europe. Initiatives to build research ethics capacity in developing countries must attempt to avoid imposing foreign frameworks and engage with ethical issues in research that are locally relevant. This article describes the process and outcomes of a capacity-building workshop that took place in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo in the summer of 2011. Although the workshop focused on a specific ethical theme – the responsibilities of researchers to provide health-related care to their research participants – we argue that the structure of the workshop offers a useful method for engaging with research ethics in general, and the theme of ancillary care encourages a broad perspective on research ethics that is highly pertinent in low-income countries. The workshop follows an interactive, locally driven model that could be fruitfully replicated in similar settings.

Keywords:
Research ethics; Developing countries; Francophone Africa; Ancillary care; Medical education