Research Ethics in The Arab World

The main purpose of research ethics is to protect humans against abuse. A founding milestone in the development of modern biomedical research ethics concepts was the Declaration of Helsinki on research involving human subjects. Other contributions include Nuremberg Code and Belmont Report (Schwenzer, 2011). Researches involving animals were also submitted to similar regulations in many countries (Miziara et al., 2012).
However, as the biomedical research advances, it become increasingly complex and new ethical issues continue to emerge. So, ethical guidelines should be continually updated to provide adequate response to these developments (Sharp et al., 2015). Many basic concepts of medical ethics were integral parts of medical practice in the Islamic culture. These include the basics of quality control and to some extent the principles of informed consent (Ajlouni, 2003).
In recent times, numerous organizational and legislative efforts has been made in many Arab countries to develop national and Arab research ethics guidelines. However, multiple shortcoming were cited in comparison to the international standards (Alahmad et al., 2012; Marzouk et al., 2014; Alahmad, 2017; Abdulrahman and Nair, 2017).
While it encouraging to learn that Arab medical (AlMahmoud et al., 2017) and pharmaceutical (Kheir et al., 2019) students have positive view of research ethics, reporting ethical practices in the Arab region remains sub-optimal (Sibai et al., 2019). Also, it’s concerning to see low awareness level of medical research ethics among some physicians (Azakir et al., 2020). It’s not surprising that implementation of research ethics is conflict areas e.g. Syria and Yemen is confronted by special challenges (Sen et al., 2016).
Recently, the second Eastern Mediterranean/Arab States regional summit of national ethics and bioethics committees was held at the WHO Regional Office in Cairo, Egypt, on 15–16 December 2019. The summit recommended enhancing online training, training of trainers and development of bylaws and regulations addressing the main ethical issues (Second Eastern Mediterranean/Arab States regional summit of national ethics and bioethics committees, 2020).
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