Linking the Governance of Research Consortia to Global Health Justice: A Case Study of Future Health Systems

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 45 (4):664-681 (2017)
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Abstract

Global health research partnerships are increasingly taking the form of consortia. Recent scholarship has proposed what features of governance may be necessary for these consortia to advance justice in global health. That guidance purports three elements of global health research consortia are essential — their research priorities, research capacity development strategies, research translation strategies — and should be structured to promote the health of the worst-off globally. This paper adopted a reflective equilibrium approach, testing the proposed ethical guidance against the experience of a global health research consortium with equity objectives. Case study research was performed with Future Health Systems, a health systems research consortium funded over two phases. Data on FHS Phase-2 were gathered through in-depth interviews with steering committee members and junior researchers and collection of consortium-related documents. Thematic analysis of the data for consistency with the proposed guidance generated recommendations for how the guidance might be better articulated and identified areas where it could usefully be expanded. Factors facilitating FHS alignment with the ethical guidance were also identified, including early engagement and partnership with low and middle-income country stakeholders, the learning developed during FHS Phase-1, and aspects of the grant program funding it.

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