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Making a Commitment to Ethics in Global Health Research Partnerships: A Practical Tool to Support Ethical Practice


Global health research partnerships have many benefits, including the development of research capacity and improving the production and use of evidence to improve global health equity. These partnerships also include many challenges, with power and resource differences often leading to inequitable and unethical partnership dynamics. Responding to these challenges and to important gaps in partnership scholarship, the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research (CCGHR) conducted a three-year, multi-regional consultation to capture the research partnership experiences of stakeholders in South Asia, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa. The consultation participants described persistent inequities in the conduct of global health research partnerships and called for a mechanism through which to improve accountability for ethical conduct within partnerships. They also called for a commitment by the global health research community to research partnership ethics. The Partnership Assessment Toolkit (PAT) is a practical tool that enables partners to openly discuss the ethics of their partnership and to put in place structures that create ethical accountability. Clear mechanisms such as the PAT are essential to guide ethical conduct to ensure that global health research partnerships are beneficial to all collaborators, that they reflect the values of the global health endeavor more broadly, and that they ultimately lead to improvements in health outcomes and health equity.

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    Partner organizations and hosts were: Dr. Koasar Afsana (project co-PI), BRAC, Bangladesh (2007); Dr. Jaime Breilh, Universided Andina “Simon Bolivar,” Ecuador (2008); and Dr. Abraham Assefa, Armauer Hansen Research Institute, Ethiopia (2009).


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Correspondence to Jill Murphy.

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Murphy, J., Hatfield, J., Afsana, K. et al. Making a Commitment to Ethics in Global Health Research Partnerships: A Practical Tool to Support Ethical Practice. Bioethical Inquiry 12, 137–146 (2015).

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  • Partnership
  • Research
  • Capacity development
  • Global health