Ethics & Engagement across the Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programmes

Progress on "Phoum Peet: Promoting Village Health in Cambodia through Community Engagement"

We now have two village malaria workers (VMWs) in place since October 2012 and they have tested a total of 34 individuals of which 10 were positive and treated for malaria. We have identified 8 new sponsors and are in the process of setting up a website for easy payment. Once this is online and the payments have been made we will recruit further VMWs. We are setting up an initial website for reporting to sponsors and coordinating the scheme. The research on the ethical issues encountered by VMWs in the scheme is in the planning stages. On sustainability of the scheme, we plan to set up the scheme as a pilot with sponsors recruited from our friends and family. The duration of the ETHOX project will be the pilot phase of the sponsorship scheme where the systems for recruiting new sponsors, reporting to existing sponsors and collecting payments will be optimised in collaboration with the Cambodian investigators. At the end of the ETHOX project, the entire structure will be handed over to the Cambodian investigators to develop as they see fit.

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Comment by Dina Rippon on January 11, 2013 at 12:28

Thank you Lisa for this great update. Your results are really impressive - it's terrific to hear that your VMWs have been able to test so many people and that those who needed treatment received it. Congratulations on identifying so many new sponsors as well - it really sounds like things are progressing well. I'm very interested in hearing about the ethical issues encountered by VMWs when your data is in and you can share it.

Comment by Michael Parker on February 3, 2013 at 17:45

Hi Lisa. Thanks for the update. It is really good to hear that the VMWs are up and running and that it seems to be going well. It's great news about the sponsors too. The website sounds like a good idea. I think my one immediate thought about the Ethox/ethics aspect of this is that it might be an idea to think about this very broadly at least in the first instance - that is, I think it would be good to just ask the VMWs about any difficulties they have faced in their work or any difficult decisions and not to worry too much about whether these are 'ethical' or just 'practical'. In my experience in other projects, I have found that this works really well and there are always interesting ethical aspects to this. For example, a VMW might say something about the fact that they only had limited time on a particular day and had to decide how best to use it, or only had a limited number of testing kits and had to decide who to test etc. I think this might also be useful for the wider project i.e. the VMW scheme in that it might highlight some of the practical challenges VWMs face in doing their work - quite apart from any ethical issues. I think this might also be interesting to write up as a paper.

Comment by Lisa Jane White on February 4, 2013 at 0:04

Thanks. Some interviews have been carried out by the VMW team in Cambodia. I have a Cambodian post grad student starting today at MORU and he will be translating these interviews so we should have some preliminary material very soon. I'll keep you posted.

Comment by Michael Parker on February 4, 2013 at 0:22

Sounds good. Thanks. If you ever want to have a chat about any of this on skype, let me know. 

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