Health Research Ethics in Malaria Vector Trials in Africa
Kilama, Wen L
Malaria journal 2010 December 13; 9 Suppl 3: S3
Malaria mosquito research in Africa as elsewhere is just over a century old. Early trials for development of mosquito control tools were driven by colonial enterprises and war efforts; they were, therefore, tested in military or colonial settings. The failure of those tools and environmental concerns, coupled with the desperate need for integrated malaria control strategies, has necessitated the development of new malaria mosquito control tools, which are to be tested on humans, their environment and mosquito habitats. Ethical concerns start with phase 2 trials, which pose limited ethical dilemmas. Phase 3 trials, which are undertaken on vulnerable civilian populations, pose ethical dilemmas ranging from individual to community concerns. It is argued that such trials must abide by established ethical principles especially safety, which is mainly enshrined in the principle of non-maleficence. As there is total lack of experience with many of the promising candidate tools (eg genetically modified mosquitoes, entomopathogenic fungi, and biocontrol agents), great caution must be exercised before they are introduced in the field. Since malaria vector trials, especially phase 3 are intrusive and in large populations, individual and community respect is mandatory, and must give great priority to community engagement. It is concluded that new tools must be safe, beneficial, efficacious, effective, and acceptable to large populations in the short and long-term, and that research benefits should be equitably distributed to all who bear the brunt of the research burdens. It is further concluded that individual and institutional capacity strengthening should be provided, in order to undertake essential research, carry out scientific and ethical review, and establish competent regulatory frameworks.
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