Application of the Relationship-Based Model to Engagement for Field Trials of Genetically Engineered Malaria Vectors

A. Kormos, G. C. Lanzaro, E. Bier, G. Dimopoulos, J. M. Marshall, J. Pinto, A. Aguiar dos Santos, A. Bacar, H. Sousa Pontes Sacramento Rompão and A. A. James,  The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene,  2020.

The transition of new technologies for public health from laboratory to field is accompanied by a broadening scope of engagement challenges. Recent developments of vector control strategies involving genetically engineered mosquitoes with gene drives to assist in the eradication of malaria have drawn significant attention. Notably, questions have arisen surrounding community and regulatory engagement activities and of the need for examples of models or frameworks that can be applied to guide engagement. A relationship-based model (RBM) provides a framework that places stakeholders and community members at the center of decision-making processes, rather than as recipients of predetermined strategies, methods, and definitions. Successful RBM application in the transformation of healthcare delivery has demonstrated the importance of open dialogue and relationship development in establishing an environment where individuals are actively engaged in decision-making processes regarding their health. Although guidelines and recommendations for engagement for gene drives have recently been described, we argue here that communities and stakeholders should lead the planning, development, and implementation phases of engagement. The RBM provides a new approach to the development of ethical, transparent, and effective engagement strategies for malaria control programs.

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