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Appropriateness of no-fault compensation for research-related injuries from an African perspective: an appeal for action by African countries

Patrick Dongosolo Kamalo, Lucinda Manda-Taylor, and Stuart Rennie

Published 2016 June 3 on The Journal of Medical Ethics.

Compensation for research-related injuries (RRIs) remains a challenge in the current environment of global collaborative biomedical research as exemplified by the continued reluctance of the US government, a major player in international biomedical research, to enact regulation for mandatory compensation for RRIs. This stance is in stark contrast to the mandatory compensation policies adopted by other democracies like the European Union (EU) countries. These positions taken by the USA and the EU create a nexus of confusion when research is exported to low-income and middle-income countries which have no laws guiding compensation for RRIs. In this paper, we begin by exploring the background to policies concerning RRIs, how they reflect on the traditional dispute resolution mechanisms in African societies, and how this compares with the no-fault compensation model. We then explore the underlying African ethical framework of Ubuntu in the sub-Saharan region, guiding traditional practices of dispute resolution and compensation, and how this framework can help to form the moral justification for no-fault compensation as the preferred compensation model for RRIs for African countries. Finally, we call upon countries in the African Union (AU), to adopt a no-fault policy for compensation of RRIs, and enact it into a regulatory requirement for insurance-based no-fault compensation for biomedical research, which will then be enforced by member states of the AU.