Mandatory reporting obligations within the context of health research: Grappling with some of the ethical-legal complexities

Mandatory reporting is aimed at the early detection of abuse and neglect to facilitate the identification of persons in need of care and/or protection and then to ensure state intervention. Globally, it has been in place since the 1960s. Initially only doctors had a legal duty to report suspicions of child abuse under mandatory reporting laws. Later, further obligations were added to require reporting by other professionals, and the circumstances in which information should be reported were extended.

Race in health research: Considerations for researchers and research ethics committees

Researchers have sought guidance on the issue of race in health research from the Faculty of Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee at the University of Pretoria, South Africa (SA). We presume that other ethics committees and researchers across SA may have had similar enquiries, and have also been concerned about using race as a variable or in defining the study population in health research. There have also been calls for greater institutional oversight regarding race-based scientific claims, averting a racialisation effect that may feature, for example, in pharmacogenomics and medication design. In response, we authored this working document on this rather sensitive issue, extracting guidance from a vast body of literature. We anticipate that not everyone may entirely agree with all the contents, but it may nonetheless be useful in deliberations through which the contentious aspects may further be considered and applied in specific contexts. Our point of departure, expounded elsewhere, is that the issue of race in health research is a matter of ethical deliberation applicable to a specific study.

Towards a data transfer agreement for the South African research community: The empowerment approach

In the scientific research context, it is trite that data are enormously valuable in advancing solutions to various health problems. Therefore, cross-border data transfers are increasingly becoming the norm, rather than the exception. However, how should South African (SA) data providers ensure that such data sharing is done on fair terms, and that their reasonable interests are legally protected? One apparent answer is a data transfer agreement (DTA). Typically, a DTA is a written agreement that regulates the lawful transfer of data between a provider and a recipient by setting out, inter alia: the purpose of the agreement; the obligations on each party; the term, ownership, and intellectual property; and other critical boilerplate legal provisions. But instructing an attorney to draft a DTA for every data transfer transaction is an expensive exercise. Moreover, the field of data protection is becoming increasingly specialised.

Strengthening research ethics oversight in Africa: The Kenyan example

Clinical trials are crucial in the research and development of new health products, and key in the discovery of interventions for otherwise devastating diseases endemic in Africa, such as malaria, leishmaniasis, tuberculosis and trypanosomiasis. They bring with them an accompanying improvement of public health and local infrastructure, and the economic boost that results from massive research funds invested locally. The number of clinical trials taking place in Africa is still relatively low compared with other parts of the globe: although Africa represents ~15% of the world’s population, it is estimated that only 2% of clinical trials conducted worldwide take place on the continent. There are several possible reasons for this disparity, chiefly the inadequate ethical and regulatory oversight capacity for such trials.

Bioethics of childbirth for another (surrogate motherhood) in the Civil Code of Kosovo

The issue of family law is extremely important, among other things because it directly applies to every person. Everyone goes through different stages of family life, and this issue adds to the urgent need to update family-legal provisions and adapt to changes in family life, as well as the development of contemporary society. Rapid changes have occurred globally concerning family life in recent decades, such as raising the age limit for marriage and childbirth, reducing the number of marriages and allowing easier dissolution of marriage, as well as constitutional legal protection of marriage, reconciliation and other forms of cohabitation (extramarital relationships, first of all), application of alternative methods of resolving disputed relations (mediation), shifting the focus of family law from status to responsibility, and the recognition of the universal character of marriage in most European countries as well as in the USA, Canada and other countries.

Parens patriae jurisdiction and religious beliefs of parents in medical treatment of a minor: Examining the Supreme Court’s decision in Tega Esabunor v Faweya & Ors (2019) LPELR 46961 (SC) in light of international practice.

Usually, parents are responsible for making medical decisions on behalf of their children. An exception occurs where it is demonstrated that the minor is mature enough to understand the consequences of his/her action. Where a child does not have the capacity to consent to treatment, guardians or those with parental responsibility can provide such consent. In Tega Esabunor v Faweye, the case under review in this article, the child in question was a minor – merely 1 month old, and therefore dependent on his parents’ consent for blood transfusion. His parents withheld their consent.


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South African Journal of Bioethics and Law - April 2023 Vol 16 No 1