Articulating ethical principles guiding Target Malaria’s engagement strategy

A. J. Roberts and D. Thizy,  Malaria Journal,  21:35. 2022.

Progress in gene drive research has engendered a lively discussion about community engagement and the ethical standards the work hinges on. While there is broad agreement regarding ethical principles and established best practices for conducting clinical public health research, projects developing area-wide vector control technologies and initiating ambitious engagement strategies raise specific questions: who to engage, when to engage, and how? When responding to these fundamental questions, with few best practices available for guidance, projects need to reflect on and articulate the ethical principles that motivate and justify their approach. Target Malaria is a not-for-profit research consortium that aims to develop and share malaria control and elimination technology. The consortium is currently investigating the potential of a genetic technique called gene drive to control populations of malaria vectoring mosquito species Anopheles gambiae. Due to the potentially broad geographical, environmental impact of gene drive technology, Target Malaria has committed to a robust form of tailored engagement with the local communities in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Uganda, where research activities are currently taking place. This paper presents the principles guiding Target Malaria’s engagement strategy. Herein the authors (i) articulate the principles; (ii) explain the rationale for selecting them; (iii) share early lessons about the application of the principles. Since gene drive technology is an emerging technology, with few best practices available for guidance, the authors hope by sharing these lessons, to add to the growing literature regarding engagement strategies and practices for area-wide vector control, and more specifically, for gene drive research.

More related to this: