The Fogarty African Bioethics Training Program (FABTP) at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics is planning its second decade of building capacity in research ethics across sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to a five-year grant from the Fogarty International Center of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The five years of additional funding will allow more African institutions to partner with the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics (BI) to deepen their programs in bioethics and research ethics. In the FABTP, an African institution is selected each year to send scholars to BI, where they spend six months engaged in course work, seminars, intensive mentoring, and leadership training. The Fogarty funding then provides support for these individuals to complete a six-month practicum project in research ethics at their home African institution.
We were first funded by Fogarty to start this program 12 years ago, when there were few opportunities for training in research ethics within Africa. We are honored and humbled to be awarded an additional five years of funding by the NIH, says Nancy Kass, ScD, co-director of FABTP and Deputy Director for Public Health at BI. Many of our FABTP alumni have become recognized international ethics experts and we look forward to this continued funding that will allow more African institutions to develop sustainable bioethics and research ethics centers, Kass says.
Oliver Mweemba, a 2012 Fogarty Scholar from the University of Zambia, School of Medicine, wants to enhance research ethics education at his home institution. His practicum project will develop and implement a curriculum for researchers, educators, and staff. Mweemba teaches health promotion, social medicine and qualitative methods to undergraduate and graduate students. He has also been involved in HIV prevention research projects at both the national and international level, and consulted on the Population Council's study in Zambia on the impact of male circumcision on sexual behavior and condom use negotiations.
The Fogarty training program in bioethics has been an eye-opener for me on the links between politics, social justice and health, Mweemba says. Working with experienced academics in the field provided a unique experience for sharing and discussing global issues in bioethics, as well as providing me with an ethics platform to critically analyze not only moral issues in doing research, but also contextualize the research agenda in the global contest of power. My goal is to pass on this experience and skills to folks in Zambia, Mweemba says.
Adnan Hyder, MD, MPH, PhD, co-director of FABTP and Associate Director of Global Programs at BI, agrees that the program's true strength comes from scholars like Mweemba, who continue research ethics development in their home countries. Through our scholars, the Fogarty African Bioethics Training Program has a lasting impact, Hyder says. Fogarty bioethics scholars build research ethics capacity across Africa by implementing lessons and projects developed in the program for long term benefit.
In addition to the University of Zambia, in recent years the program has partnered with the College of Health Sciences at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and the Office of Research and Development at the University of Botswana.
The Fogarty African Bioethics Training Program is a cornerstone of our Global Bioethics Program at the Berman Institute, says Ruth Faden, PhD, MPH, director of BI. Thanks to this continued funding, we are looking forward to continuing the program and expanding institutional support for our Fogarty scholars as they implement their practicum projects.