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Appropriateness of no-fault compensation for research-related injuries from an African perspective: an appeal for action by African countries
  1. Patrick Dongosolo Kamalo1,2,
  2. Lucinda Manda-Taylor3,
  3. Stuart Rennie4
  1. 1Department of Surgery, University of Malawi—College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi
  2. 2Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
  3. 3School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Centre for Bioethics in Eastern and Southern Africa (CEBESA), College of Medicine, University of Malawi, College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi
  4. 4Department of Social Medicine and UNC Bioethics Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Patrick Dongosolo Kamalo, Department of Surgery, University of Malawi—College of Medicine, Private Bag 360, Chichiri, Blantyre 265, Malawi; pkamalo{at}, kamalopd{at}


Compensation for research-related injuries (RRIs) remains a challenge in the current environment of global collaborative biomedical research as exemplified by the continued reluctance of the US government, a major player in international biomedical research, to enact regulation for mandatory compensation for RRIs. This stance is in stark contrast to the mandatory compensation policies adopted by other democracies like the European Union (EU) countries. These positions taken by the USA and the EU create a nexus of confusion when research is exported to low-income and middle-income countries which have no laws guiding compensation for RRIs. In this paper, we begin by exploring the background to policies concerning RRIs, how they reflect on the traditional dispute resolution mechanisms in African societies, and how this compares with the no-fault compensation model. We then explore the underlying African ethical framework of Ubuntu in the sub-Saharan region, guiding traditional practices of dispute resolution and compensation, and how this framework can help to form the moral justification for no-fault compensation as the preferred compensation model for RRIs for African countries. Finally, we call upon countries in the African Union (AU), to adopt a no-fault policy for compensation of RRIs, and enact it into a regulatory requirement for insurance-based no-fault compensation for biomedical research, which will then be enforced by member states of the AU.

  • Distributive Justice
  • Philosophical Ethics
  • Research Ethics
  • Scientific Research

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