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Acta Trop. 2009 Nov;112 Suppl 1:S37-47. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2009.08.003. Epub 2009 Aug 8.

Health research ethics in public health: trials and implementation of malaria mosquito control strategies.

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  • 1African Malaria Network Trust, Dares Salaam, Tanzania.


Health research ethics has its roots in protecting individuals participating in clinical trials. There is, however, nascent interest in ethics in public health, although it does not yet cover ethics in the development of public health products. The paper reviews the history of the development of malaria vector interventions, which initially aimed at promoting colonial interests. Attempts at eradicating malaria in Africa ended in 1969, and DDT, the leading malaria vector control tool was banned soon after. Insecticide Treated Nets, which later gave rise to Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets have resurrected malaria mosquito vector control, and their development has set new benchmarks, which it is suggested should be followed by all vector control tools under development. Furthermore, DDT has been exonerated and is back in the vector control arsenal. New tools under development include the sterile male technique, genetically modified mosquitoes, entomopathogenic fungi, and odorants.The paper proposes that these new tools be tested in community settings, abiding by all the leading bioethical principles, and calls for the development and implementation of international ethical guidelines for trials in public health.

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