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    Ethics are concerned with moral principles, values, and professional conducts that are in alignment with the best available standards. Health care raises numerous ethical concerns, related to, for example, health care delivery, professional integrity, data handling, and the use of human subjects in research.

    Many countries in the Region are host to a large number of clinical trials, particularly in the areas of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases. This research involves the participation of thousands of volunteers, many of whom are vulnerable due to high levels of poverty, low education and low levels of empowerment.

    Bioethicists agree that people cannot be used simply as means, but rather that they should be treated as ends in and of themselves. In response, most countries in the African Region report having formed functional ethics committees to help protect the public.

    Community representatives should be intimately involved to help ensure the ethical and scientific quality of proposed research, its relevance to the affected community, and its acceptance by the affected community. Involvement should be in an early and sustained manner in the design, development, application, and the distribution of reliable data.

    Reliable data from across the Region is a critical component in establishing policy, procedure and implementation of best practises.

    Developing normative guidance

    The unit develops guidance for policymakers and government on a diverse range of bioethics issues including patient safety, epidemic response and vaccine research.

    Producing ethics tools and resources

    The unit produces resources for national and local ethics committees which suggest practical ways on how to resolve common ethical issues.

    Capacity building

    The unit conducts and coordinates training for Member States on public health ethics and research ethics.

    Reviewing WHO research ethics

    The unit hosts the secretariat of WHO’s Research Ethics Review Committee which ensures all research supported by WHO is conducted to the highest ethical standards.

    International leadership

    The unit hosts the secretariat of the biennial Global Summit of National Ethics/Bioethics Committees, a forum for national bioethics advisory bodies which discusses and develops consensus on ethical guidance.

    The unit hosts the Global Network of Collaborating Centres. This valuable resource facilitates research, advises WHO and strengthens capacity for work on ethics at a regional and national level.

    Featured news

    African regulatory agencies, ethics committees to expedite COVID-19 clinical trial reviews
    African regulatory agencies, ethics committees to expedite COVID-19 clinical trial reviews