Equity in international research partnerships
International research partnerships (IRPs) are common models of health research in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), typically in partnership with high-income country (HIC) institutions.1,2 IRPs can be beneficial – by advancing knowledge on matters important to local populations and increasing LMIC representation in global health research – but also risk being harmful, by inadvertently perpetuating intellectual, scientific, and structural inequalities.3,4 Focused attention to equity between LMIC and HIC partners offers a promising pathway through which the benefits of IRPs can be maximized and risks minimized.5-7
We define equity in the context of IRPs as prioritizing mutually beneficial inputs, processes, outputs, outcomes, and impact8 including LMIC capacity strengthening to narrow power and dependence asymmetries between partners. There are strong theoretical accounts that root IRP equity within principles of social and global justice9-12 and equitable IRPs are prioritized as one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.13 The literature is converging on topics and indicators for what constitutes IRP equity14 and there are over a dozen guidelines describing how IRP equity can be protected and promoted within LMIC health research.
Awareness of IRP inequities is common among investigators and research staff, yet are frequently under-acknowledged in professional and academic spaces. Understanding current barriers and facilitators of equity in IRP practices requires capturing the knowledge, experiences, and environment of investigators and research staff. Using Uganda-United States (US) and Uganda-United Kingdom (UK) HIV IRPs, we will use a mixed-methods explanatory quantitative to qualitative sequential design to generate a holistic understanding of IRP equity from the perspectives of Ugandan, US, and UK investigators and research staff.
- Chelsea Modlin, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
- Joseph Ali, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
- Nelson Sewankambo, Makerere University College of Health Sciences
- Larry Chang, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
- Arsenii Alenichev, Ethox Centre, University of Oxford
- Prakriti Shrestha, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA
Image credit; Robin Kutesa on Unsplash
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