Archive for the ‘2018 FABTP Articles’ Category

Who is answerable to whom? Exploring the complex relationship between researchers, community and Community Advisory Board (CAB) members in two research studies in Zambia

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018


This paper explores the accountability relationships that arise between researchers, the community and community representative structures known as Community Advisory Boards (CABs). It draws on ethnographic and case study research that documented the history, recruitment, composition and representativeness of two CABs and their relationships with researchers and communities, carried out in two studies in Zambia between 2010 and 2014. The findings revealed contradictions, nuances and imbalances in actual community participation and representation. In both studies, the general population was not given the opportunity to participate in the election of their CAB representatives, and the elected CAB members themselves were initially told to have little or no direct contact with research participants whom they were supposed to represent (unless researchers dictated otherwise). Owing to the researchers’ monopoly of scientific knowledge, literacy and financial resources, power relations were imbalanced. Further, researchers were quick to ask for and formalise community commitment through the CABs whilst reticent about their own accountability to the community. Yet despite these imbalances and CABs lacking formal authority over researchers, CABs did have subtle powers arising from their wider influence in the community, which they could tap into to either support or resist research. To achieve a more balanced and open accountability between research stakeholders, more genuine participatory processes need to be built and sustained.


Keywords: Accountability, community engagement, community advisory boards (CABs), power, representation

Research priorities during infectious disease emergencies in West Africa

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018



This paper presents the results of the consultations conducted with various stakeholders in Africa and other experts to document community perspectives on the types of research to be prioritised in outbreak conditions. The Delphi method was used to distill consensus.


Our consultations highlighted as key, the notion that in an infectious disease outbreak situation, the need to establish an evidence base on how to reduce morbidity and mortality in real time takes precedence over the production of generalizable knowledge. Research studies that foster understanding of how disease transmission could be prevented in the future remain important, implementation research that explores how to mitigate the impact of outbreaks in the present should be prioritized. Clinical trials aiming to establish the safety profile of therapeutic interventions should be limited during the acute phase of an epidemic with high fatality-and should preferably use adaptive designs. We concluded that community members have valuable perspectives to share about research priorities during infectious disease emergencies. Well designed consultative processes could help identify these opinions.


Consultation; Epidemic; Infectious disease; Research design; Research priorities; West Africa