Every year Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust (MLW) recruits new staff to join the various projects within the programme, a good percentage of these staff is dominated by Fieldworkers (FWs). In 2015 MLW had about 87 FWs, over the years we have seen the number increasing up to 130. Principal Investigators (PI) manage their respective FWs. The increasing number drew our attention to embark on a small bursary project which aimed at exploring experiences of the FWs and how we can improve ethical practice within MLW. We also wanted to propose a strategy which can be used to provide systematic support to this group of staff.
Quick update from my side on the project titled 'Ethical concerns over the analysis and storage of excised human tissue' – following the feedback I received from our local ethics committee, I have designed the questionnaire and resubmitted the application, so just waiting to hear back.
Informed consent has been described as one of the foundational pillars of ethical research, and arguably one of the most researched area in ethics. Understandably, we had many questions during planning of this project, key of which was what new contribution will our project add to the vast ‘consent literature’? Surprisingly, we also knew, from our own experiences of being in translation of consent information, that there is very little guidance available, particularly when such translation involves multiple languages, and research terminologies are ever evolving. We knew we had our work cut-out for us; we (Betty and Salim, the Principle Investigators of this project) are community engagement implementers and not primarily researchers; but we are keen to learn research skills. With guidance from our social scientists in the Department, we designed a 4-phased research, with an overall research question as ‘How can the processes for informed consent translation be strengthened to enhance communication’?