Special Section on Global Health Fieldwork Ethics and Human Rights
In April 2018, a group of 29 global health researchers and practitioners from various disciplines, institutions, and career phases—from students to CEOs—came together for the Workshop on Ethically Managing Global Health Fieldwork Risks held at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, USA. All the participants had worked in global health, and experienced situations in the field that led them to question their own actions and to seek ethical guidance, which was largely absent from the global health literature. They came to realize that our varied experiences spoke to shared encounters with the gap between ethical principles and the complexities of real-world fieldwork.
The articles in this special section, which emerged following the workshop, present a wide array of global health fieldwork ethics challenges, which powerfully illustrate the ways in which global health has not adequately addressed on-the-ground ethics. Above all, the papers illustrate that unexpected situations and encounters frequently occur during fieldwork, often with problematic outcomes.
As many of the articles in this special section illustrate, human rights violations—of local participants, project communities, and fieldworkers—occur within the context of global health fieldwork. It is our responsibility as a field, particularly one dedicated to the promotion of health as a human right, to establish clear and practical ethical guidance to mitigate and eliminate these violations and to ensure that the relationships we build are ones of partnership and equality.
Health and Human Rights Journal (2020) Special Section on Global Health Fieldwork Ethics and Human Rights in collaboration with Agnes Scott College, the Task Force for Global Health, and Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Volume 21, Issue 1, June 2019