Cambridge-Africa

Dr John Barugahare

Dr John Barugahare (Makerere University)

Research title: Comparative Bioethics: A framework for culturally-responsive implementation of ethical guidelines for international collaborative research

Research project: International collaborative health-related research is increasingly becoming ethically controversial due the stringency of its ethical requirements. The question is whether perfectly similar ethical requirements for conducting research in a High Income Countries (HIC) must apply to the letter when the same research is taking place in a Low Income Country (LIC). Whereas some LICs have different and, arguably, less stringent ethical requirements that may allow research projects that cannot be allowed in HICs, researchers from HICs are currently required to comply with their home country and institutional guidelines. This tendency has been described as ethical imperialism. Some non-Anglo-American bioethicists' response has been advocacy for cultural-specific bioethics. Using the case study of what has been named "African Bioethics" this project examines the implications of this trend for the future of international collaborative research. Whereas radical ethical relativism is dangerous in health research, the charge of ethical imperialism too seems legitimate. As a solution to potential bioethics cacophony that will complicate international collaborative research, the hypothesis of the principal investigator is that on the basis of key concepts in Comparative Ethics, construction of a framework for 'Comparative Global Bioethics' which may resolve this impasse is possible.

Collaborator: Dr Stephen John, Department of History and Philosophy of Science