Researchers, Key Stakeholders Must Address Challenges Of Conducting Health Research In Countries Experiencing Crisis
“Researchers, donors, governments and other key stakeholders cannot ignore the challenges of conducting research in nations experiencing crises, and should not shy away from these countries,” Samba Sow, director general of the Center for Vaccine Development in Mali, a collaborative enterprise between Mali’s Ministry of Health and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, writes in CNN’s “Global Public Square” blog. “In the past year, my colleagues at Center for Vaccine Development Mali and I have faced immeasurable challenges in keeping research efforts going while an insurgency threatened the capital city of Bamako, where our research center is located,” he states, discussing these challenges and noting the group’s “already complex research projects became even more difficult after the coup in March 2012.” He writes, “Large, complex research projects like the ones we conduct must be executed meticulously to ensure integrity of data and safeguarding of patients,” adding, “In these politically turbulent times, we’ve had to adapt to maintain the quality of our research and to protect our patients.”
“Thankfully, things have mostly returned to normal in Bamako. But should the violence reignite, we will once again adapt and do what it takes to keep research projects operating and preserve the integrity of the research,” Sow continues. “Research in low-resource settings helps us understand how to save lives and improve health in these settings, where the most vulnerable people, especially children, often live,” he notes, adding, “Research provides the accurate, timely information on disease burden that health officials rely on to prioritize life-saving interventions. In low-resource countries where ministries of health must do more on smaller budgets, this data is critical.” He concludes, “No matter what obstacles conflict brings, there are enough dedicated people willing to brave the checkpoints and get the job done. Giving up is simply not an option” (8/1).