Responsiveness to Host Community Health Needs

There is near universal agreement within the scientific and ethics communities that a necessary condition for the moral permissibility of cross-national, collaborative research is that it be responsive to the health needs of the host community. It has proven difficult, however, to leverage or capitalize on this consensus in order to resolve lingering disputes about the ethics of international medical research. This is largely because different sides in these debates have sometimes provided different interpretations of what this requirement amounts to in actual practice. The goal of the discussion that follows is to clarify the nature of this important moral requirement. The first section explains the requirement for responsiveness to host community health needs in the context of international medical research. The second section examines various formulations of this requirement as they are enunciated in some of the core consensus documents in research ethics. The third section then defends a particular interpretation of this requirement, and the final sections examine more liberal alternatives with the aim of highlighting points of agreement and assessing the significance of areas of disagreement
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