A Case Study of Research Ethics Capacity Development in Africa


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Abstract

Debates about cross-cultural research have sparked growing interest in international research ethics and have initiated collaborative efforts addressing international ethical concerns. This is a case study describing the attempt of the Johns Hopkins Fogarty African Research Ethics Training Program (JHF), recipient of a National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center (FIC) award, to strengthen research ethics capacity in Africa. The aim of this article is to identify critical elements of an effective research ethics capacity development process through a case study of this particular training program. More specifically, this article describes the JHF program in detail, assesses its outputs during four years, and analyzes its implications of the current model for further growth of this and similar FIC programs.This article assesses the JHF program using materials produced in the first four years of its existence (2001–2004): curriculum materials; application records; informal progress notes and evaluations; transcripts from the trainees' coursework; resumes; and formal progress reports submitted by trainees. The framework used to assess the program is a systems approach, which explores inputs, processes, outputs, and outcomes of the program.The nature and types of inputs changed over time as experience was gained in the program and a continuous improvement in specific processes was implemented. The JHF program has been successful in providing research ethics education and motivating trainees to contribute in the field of research ethics in their countries. How this translates to changes in research ethics in Africa remains to be seen.

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