Research policy

Research ethics

Just Published: Casebook on Ethical Issues in International Health Research
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All research involving human participants must be conducted in a manner that respects the dignity, safety and rights of research participants and that recognizes the responsibilities of researchers.

The WHO Manual (Section XV.2) defines research with human subjects as 'any social science, biomedical, behavioural, or epidemiological activity that entails systematic collection or analysis of data with the intent to generate new knowledge, in which human beings i) are exposed to manipulation, intervention, observation, or other interaction with investigators either directly or through alteration of their environment, or ii) become individually identifiable through investigator's collection, preparation, or use of biological material or medical or other records.'

What happens after I make a submission? The ERC Review Process

The ERC Flow-Chart

Check out how to prepare proposals that meet ERC's requirements? Guidance Documents and Templates

Requesting review of a new proposal? Never Submitted to ERC before? Advice and guidance

Responding to the ERC Review Summary?

Requesting for Continuing Review?

Requesting for an Amendment?

Submitting SAEs, Protocol deviations, DSMB reports?

Project is completed? Please inform the ERC

Research Ethics in WHO is overseen by the WHO Research Ethics Review Committee known as the WHO ERC and its Secretariat, housed within the RPC Department. The ERC secretariat manages the committee, provides initial review of research projects, facilitates ethics review, and liaises with technical units.

The ERC secretariat also supports capacity strengthening, through the ethics review process, and through the development of checklists, templates and other guidance documents that support research proposal development. Capacity building workshops are also organized at regional, country and HQ level. In addition, a Casebook on Ethical Issues in International Health Research soon to be published by the Secretariat is a compilation of more than 50 case studies relating to research ethics, that can be used as a resource by professionals interested in running workshops or courses in research ethics.

Another function of the ERC secretariat is to develop norms and standards for best practice in the area of research ethics for example: establishing the norms and standards for ethical and expert review and the accreditation of ethical review committee.

These activities are in line with the WHO strategy on research for health, the vision of which is to ensure that the highest norms and standards of good research are upheld within WHO, including technical, ethical and methodological aspects and the translation into practice, use and dissemination of results.