Challenges and Opportunities in Ensuring Ethical Research in Africa


  • Mantombi Maseme University of Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS)



Autonomy and trust, international collaborative research, human sample commercialisation, sample export, benefit sharing, ethical matrix


The main ethical issues specific to the African continent research agenda relate to the vulnerability of African researchers, particularly as a result of inadequate resources, inadequate or lack of applicable legislation, and genetic variability of African populations that make samples from such populations most sought-after by researchers from other continents. This paper explores some of the ethical research challenges in Africa through an ethico-legal assessment of the literature and offers opportunities for addressing these challenges. The literature review findings revealed ethical dilemmas that include consent issues, cross-border transfer of samples and material transfer agreements, commodification of human material as well as benefit sharing.  Based on these findings, opportunities for ethical research arise and these include benefit sharing such as researcher recognition and participating community study-related health benefits and well-defined agreements that consider appropriate specimen access and use. Significant changes in African research status quo are required to counter the effects of ethical research challenges, thereby ensuring sound ethical conduct and integrity in research. In addition to the noted opportunities, this paper also recommends monitoring of the fate of exported samples and proposes an ethical matrix that can be used by governments and institutions in addressing the highlighted research challenges in ethical decision making and policy intervention.


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How to Cite

Maseme, M. . (2021) “Challenges and Opportunities in Ensuring Ethical Research in Africa”, African Journal of Inter/Multidisciplinary Studies, pp. 74–85. doi: 10.51415/ajims.v3i1.977.