Research and Global Health Emergencies: On the essential role of best practice

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This paper addresses an important yet overlooked regulatory challenge faced during Global Health Emergencies (GHEs). It provides important and novel insights into how, and why, best practice can provide much needed support to decision-makers in determining how to interpret and implement key guidance on conducting research during GHEs. The ability to conduct research before, during and after such events is crucial. The recent West African Ebola outbreaks and the Zika Virus have highlighted the considerable room for improvement in meeting the imperative to research and rapidly develop effective therapies. A means of effectively capturing these experiences and folding them into future decision-making is lacking and the need for effective practical translational measures remains. The challenge for the research community, lies in extracting meaningful action-guiding content from pre-existing guidelines - which draw upon practical examples of guidelines ‘in action’ - that can help them to determine how to act in a particular (future) situation. This paper provides novel insights into the role of best practice as a means to do so, and it is argued that the introduction of best practice examples can provide invaluable support to decision-makers in their interpretations of high-level guidance; overarching guidelines retain their necessary level of generality and flexibility, whilst corresponding best practice examples - which incorporate important lessons learned - illustrate how such guidelines can be interpreted at a practical level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237–250
Number of pages14
JournalPublic Health Ethics
Issue number3
Early online date24 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jul 2018


  • rules
  • principles
  • best practice
  • public health
  • health emergencies


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