Ethics & Engagement across the Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programmes

Ethical healthcare Programme Implementation in Cambodia (EPIC) study

Dr Kaajal Patel is a 2021 GHBN Bursary Fellow


Dr Kaajal Patel is a research paediatrician and PhD student from the UK. She is based in Siem Reap, Cambodia at the Cambodia Oxford Medical Research Unit (COMRU) and Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC), which is an international non-governmental organisation (iNGO). Kaajal leads AHC’s flagship Saving Babies Lives’ (SBL) programme, which aims to reduce neonatal mortality in rural Cambodia. Kaajal noticed the paucity of ethical guidance for iNGOs, such as AHC, to implement healthcare programmes, such as SBL. She was awarded a GHBN bursary to explore this gap with her ‘Ethical healthcare Programme Implementation in Cambodia’ (EPIC) qualitative research study.


Ethical healthcare Programme Implementation in Cambodia (EPIC) study              

Ethics is considered the backbone of healthcare and the foundation of global work. Numerous ethical codes exist in the aid and healthcare sectors. However, no ethical guidance exists specifically for iNGO-implemented healthcare programmes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This is despite the fact that iNGOs are often the primary source of healthcare for the many of the world’s poorest. Knowledge of the ‘right way’ to implement these programmes is often not articulated or discussed.

Our qualitative EPIC study aims to establish the key microlevel ethical values which are considered important among key stakeholders involved in healthcare programmes implemented by iNGOs.

We will use questionnaires and semi-structured interviews to explore the experiences and perspectives of key stakeholders (donors, iNGO and beneficiaries) with experience or exposure to iNGO-implemented healthcare programmes in Cambodia. Participants will be identified using a purposive sampling strategy. Thematic content analysis will be used to iteratively analyse the data.

By exploring stakeholder perspectives, we can better understand the ethical issues specific to this important sector. Drawing from this we can develop general ethical principles that can be applied for future iNGO-implemented healthcare programmes in Cambodia and similar LMICs.

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