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Ethics & Engagement across the Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programmes

Featured Project: Describing Ethically Important Features of Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems in sub-Saharan Africa: Context, Functioning and History

Alex Hinga is a 2016/2017 Global Health Bioethics Network Fellow

Biosketch:

Alex Hinga graduated with a Master of Science degree in Public Health from UWE Bristol in 2014. In 2015, he joined the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi Kenya as a PHD Student. Alex has research interests in the ethics of complex health systems and longitudinal observational studies. He has previously worked in research projects involving field epidemiology, evaluation of e-learning programmes and national end of life care strategies. His PHD project is exploring ethical issues for Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems (HDSS) in sub-Saharan Africa.

Project Title: Describing Ethically Important Features of Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems in sub-Saharan Africa: Context, Functioning and History

Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems (HDSS) longitudinally record births, deaths, migrations and pregnancies in geographically defined populations. The majority of HDSS sites are located in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where they follow-up 3.2 million people. HDSS occupy a grey area between research, health care and public health practice. Surveillance – the core function of HDSS – is often accompanied by research projects and provision of health care.

It is not clear how ethical frameworks and guidelines developed for research, health care and public health should be applied in HDSS. In addition, while many HDSS sites have been in operation for decades, only a few have documented their experiences of addressing ethical issues.

This bursary project is nested within a larger PHD study exploring ethical issues for HDSS in SSA using a case study methodology. The project aims to describe the similarities and differences between HDSS sites in terms of their history, functioning and context.  This will be achieved through literature and document review, observation of surveillance activities in selected sites and discussions with HDSS research staff. The overall analysis will lead to a rich description of HDSS sites and mapping out of potential ethical issues for future in-depth inquiry.

Comment by Michael Parker on February 2, 2017 at 9:03

Hi Alex. Many congratulations on your bursary. This is the first time, as far as I know, that anyone has looked at the ethics of HDSS and I'm really excited to see what you come up with. All the best with the project. Mike

Comment by Alex Nginyo Hinga on February 6, 2017 at 12:56

Hi Mike. Thank you for the support and encouragement. The limited available literature has focused on some components of HDSS such as verbal autopsies and nested studies. I look forward to sharing the findings of my exploratory and in-depth case studies with the Network. Thank you. Alex

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