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We are one of nine international research organisations supporting the Call for Action for ethical global health research, issued today (28 January) by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

Following a two-year international inquiry, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics are calling for research funders, governments, and others involved in health research systems to take a more ethical and collaborative approach to conducting research during emergencies.

This ties in with the publication of Nuffield Council’s ‘Research in global health emergencies’ report which aims to identify ways in which research can be undertaken ethically during emergencies.

The full report outlines 24 recommendations for changes to align the policies and practices of global health emergency research with three core values: fairness, equal respect and helping reduce suffering.

Jess Camburn


As a leading funder of public health research and innovation in some of the most challenging humanitarian settings, Elrha fully supports this critical Call for Action. There is an urgent need for greater investment in research and innovation to support humanitarian and global health emergencies, but we know that such activity will engage with people and communities at times of extreme vulnerability. It’s therefore crucial that all funders champion the adoption of the highest possible ethical standards and approaches to safeguard vulnerable individuals, and advocate for fair and equitable collaborations. We applaud the Nuffield Council on Bioethics for spearheading this work.

Following a two-year inquiry, the Call for Action highlights the following recommendations:

  • More investment in community engagement so that local voices can be heard, and that everyone involved in research in global health emergencies is treated fairly and respectfully.
  • Ensuring that, before proceeding with any research project, participants’ basic health needs are being addressed. Funders will need to work in partnerships with humanitarian organisations and health ministries to achieve this.
  • Better support for emergency planning, to secure robust health and health research systems – given the vital importance of properly resourced preparedness between emergencies.

R2HC Research Ethics Tool

Find out about our Research Ethics Tool, which we developed in 2017 to support humanitarian health researchers, and provides guidance in line with the Call for Action recommendations.

Use our Tool

We are excited to be supporting the Call for Action alongside the following international research institutions and organisations:

  • International Rescue Committee
  • The African Academy of Sciences
  • Wellcome
  • Médecins Sans Frontières UK
  • London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz)
  • Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action
  • University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division

Find out more about the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ Call for Action.

Photo: Refugee settlement in Beqaa Valley, Lebanon. Credit: Michael Pluess, Queen Mary University of London

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