Everything in our society is tried to be governed by ethics. Ethics differ from one society to the other. The way we are brought up in “our” society, culture, beliefs, and education, shapes morality. Ethics is knowing to differentiate the wrong and good deed, what you have right to do and what is right to do.
This promotes the conscious in humans’ mind in almost everything we do in our daily lives. Ethics are important in research, for may reason. To conduct research, a researcher needs to follow certain principles. Ethics protects participants against physical and psychological damage. It gives the free option to engage. It retains knowledge among scientist and participant of the energy differentials. Finally, honesty in describing the participants ‘ nature of the studies. There are fundamental principles of ethics; namely, honesty, non-discrimination, fairness, respect for human dignity, human rights, social justice, accountability, and responsibility.
Western continents have shaped the occurrence of ethics in Africa. The research that involves the human as being subject participants abuse, has shaped the present-day research to protect norm, standards and requirements. In the Nazi human experiment, the participants were forced to participate, they did not volunteer, and there was no consent given to them and procedure. This human experiment (research) on the prisoners’ Jews by the Nazi scientist, this gave rise of research ethics through the Nuremberg Code if research ethics in 1946.
One of the Nuremberg Code is that the human subject’s voluntary consent is absolutely vital and to prevent all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury, the experiment should be performed in such a way. Therefore, because of this, the world then began to see the significance of creating a normal study practice aimed at promoting study fairness, particularly when people are subjects. The Nuremberg code was then implemented in most of the developed countries. This then leads to some of the researcher from the developed countries to come and do research which resulted in Africa being the “guinea pig”. These scientists from developed countries started to conduct unethical research in Africa that cannot be accomplished readily in their own nations because of a solid legislative structure for research there that is often not found in most African nations.
There was no honesty between the researcher and Africans, that resulted in them being subjected to bad practices in the name of research. An example of research carried out without the approval of research ethics or individually informed consent is the study, is a cerebro-spinal meningitis outbreak that occurred in Tudun Wada in Kano State, Nigeria, in 1996. Pfizer from the United States of America brought together a team to investigate his test medication TROVAN — a quinolone antibiotic. A total of 200 children were recruited into the research by Pfizer in two arms – one arm had orally the test drug Trovan and the control arm received Ceftriaxone or Chloramphenicol.
This study did not follow the Nuremberg Code of conduct because, before carrying out the research, Pfizer never acquired ethical clearance; and before recruiting the participant, Pfizer did not receive informed permission and did not tell the research respondents that the drug was an experimental drug. The University of the Witwatersrand established a health Research Ethical Committee (REC) in 1966. This was because the Africans were now becoming aware of unethical practices done to them. The RECs, have a duty to protect the welfare of respondents in studies.
There were reasons why developed countries exploited the African continent. The lack of resources, such as technology, funding and etc. The ethics review committee are inadequately developed, and there is low awareness of ethics guidelines and also limited or outdated legislation. The people that are members of the committee of the ethics are overworked and/ or untrained.