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The Official blog of the Pan African Medical Journal

There is hope for equity in global health research for Africa

11 Jul 2022 / Article

There is hope for equity in global health research for Africa

Integrity and adherence to appropriate ethical standards are important elements of research. These standards are key to protecting research participants’ rights as well as ensuring the reliability and quality of research outputs. Violation of these standards is common in low- and middle-income countries including sub-Saharan Africa when it comes to sharing equitably the benefits of research outputs. Equity remains central, and a major challenge in the research integrity space globally. Indeed, there is disheartening evidence regarding the low numbers of lead authors and last authors from research done in Africa, with scientists from the Global North dominating in these respected positions. Unhealthy partnerships with scientists from the global North dominating remain disturbingly prevalent. The long-awaited Cape Town Statement (key deliverable from the just-ended World conference on research integrity in Cape Town, May 2022, South Africa) is a huge hope bearer regarding the expected guidance on equity in global health research and preventing helicopter research. Some journals have already started to take their responsibilities when it comes to upholding equitable partnerships in research. Institutions like the Indiana University Centre for global health are currently testing its “reciprocal innovation approach” to help advance healthy research partnerships and research translation. Larson and colleagues have proposed The Equity Tool (EQT) for considering equity in global health practice. Its four domains include governance and process, procedures and operations, progress and impacts, and power and inclusion. Funders have a significant role in including clear equity processes in their funding strategies. Ending helicopter research will require a strong commitment from all stakeholders involved, and clear monitoring and reporting guidelines to measure progress. As has been proposed by a couple of journals including Nature, Anesthesia, the Lancet, and the BMJ global health, it will be justice to state clearly how equity was ensured in collaborative global health research before these papers are published. Funders might have to systematically evaluate how equity will be ensured in collaborative research. It is plausible that a lack of capacity to drive local research can perpetuate this disequilibrium. However, it is important to search for local researchers to drive local research, and include capacity building as an integral component in long-term grants.


  1. Morton B, Vercueil A, Masekela R, Heinz E, Reimer L, Saleh S, et al. Consensus statement on measures to promote equitable authorship in the publication of research from international partnerships. Anaesthesia. 2022 Mar;77(3):264–76.
  2. ‘Helicopter research’ comes under fire at Cape Town conference [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jun 27]. Available from:
  3. Larson CP, Plamondon KM, Dubent L, Bicaba F, Bicaba A, Minh TH, et al. The Equity Tool for Valuing Global Health Partnerships. Global Health: Science and Practice [Internet]. 2022 Apr 28 [cited 2022 Jun 27];10(2). Available from:

Luchuo Engelbert Bain, MD, PhD

Senior Science Editor, The Pan African Medical Journal (UNITED KINGDOM)

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Global health