Climate Change and Infectious Disease: rethinking the ethics of researcher-community partnerships in the face of structural environmental vulnerabilities
March 2021 - March 2022
Much international infectious disease research occurs against the backdrop of structural vulnerabilities, including poverty, political conflict, and climate change. In many of the world’s least advantaged populations, where the burden of climate-sensitive infections is often highest, there are few data to guide decision-making or stimulate action on climate change and relevant infectious diseases.
An urgent priority for climate-sensitive infectious diseases is for research to improve the prediction of disease burden, especially where climate change is likely to increase it. There is an ethical imperative for such research to mitigate, or eliminate, current and future harmful effects of disease, but to what extent should research or research institutions engage environmental drivers of infectious disease?
Community-based activism and government initiatives are often poorly linked to research teams, institutions, and sponsors, falling outside the remit of research activities.
This project brought together infectious disease researchers, networks, and groups interested in the environmental determinants of infectious disease, with environmental grass-roots community activists to explore and challenge what is possible through research-community partnerships.
It built an interdisciplinary collaboration to engage ethical challenges and opportunities of researcher-community partnerships, and to begin characterising researchers’ and research institutions’ ethical responsibilities toward community partners, in relation to climate change as a structural environmental vulnerability in the context of infectious disease research.
This collaboration has led to further research funded The Greenwall Foundation.
- Maria Merritt Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University, USA
- Maureen Kelley Ethox Centre, University of Oxford, UK
- Euzebiusz Jamrozik Ethox Centre, University of Oxford, UK