oa South African Journal of Bioethics and Law - Ethical guidelines for military-based health research : an unmet need in Africa? : research

Volume 8 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1999-7639



Achieving the highest standards of ethics in military health research is a challenging but crucial undertaking. The military environment is complex and African military health professionals struggle to maintain a balance between ethics and military ethos. The objective of this paper is to explore research ethics guidelines by reviewing 10 examples for their application to the military context, and describe the need for guidance in military research ethics in sub-Saharan Africa.

To achieve this, five prominent international research ethics guidelines and five African guidelines were selected. Thereafter, designed topics were used in analysing them for their strengths and weaknesses in providing protection for military research participants.
Out of the five international guidelines reviewed, only the Council for International Organization of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) mentions the 'armed forces'. Similarly, the only African national guideline that specifically mentions the 'armed forces' is the Ugandan national guideline.
We concluded that national and international guidelines for human subject research may be too general and not suitable for research with military populations. There is a need for additional guidance in research ethics for military health research in sub-Saharan Africa.

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