New principles to underpin equitable research partnerships in global health

News article 5 Jun 2024
LSTM 125 session on the development of the principles, attended by participants from LSTM, LVCT Health, MLW, ReSOK and CeSHHAR

Transboundary partners and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine have co-developed seven principles that are fundamental to enabling equitable research partnerships.

The careful co-development process through which the principles were developed has been published in a new paper in PLOS Global Public Health, co-authored by colleagues from both LVCT Health, a Kenyan healthcare NGO and LSTM.

The principles are part of LSTM’s ongoing efforts to improve and undo harmful power structures that perpetuate inequities in global health partnerships.

The summarised seven principles are:

  • Opportunity for all partners to input into research design, agenda setting and outputs to reflect priorities.
  • Transparency to guide all stages of the partnership from agenda setting, budgeting, data ownership, authorship, training and education.
  • Recognition that relevance is key to shaping agendas and conducting research that is appropriate and impactful in research settings.
  • Acknowledgement that professional development at all levels requires mutual, multi-directional capacity strengthening and exchange.
  • Commitment to deliberate and strategic promotion of leadership of LMIC partners in collaborations with LSTM.
  • Commitment and adherence to a multi-centric model of partnership with no centralised power.
  • Commitment to the four values of the Global Code of Conduct within all collaborations: Fairness, Respect, Care, Honesty and pay attention to institutional values.

The co-development process involved an online survey and a series of interviews with a wide range of LSTM’s international partners. Findings were presented and discussed in a participatory workshop to co-develop the principles, which were refined and consulted on with stakeholders. This work then fed into the establishment of a Global Hubs and LSTM Council which is envisaged as a starting point for co-ordination of strategic exchange, mutual support and development between transboundary partners.

The seven principles are incorporated into the Terms of Reference of the LSTM & Global Hubs Council, which involves representatives from CeSHHAR Zimbabwe, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), LSTM, and the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Programme.

Professor Bertie Squire, Dean of Partnerships at LSTM, said: “It is essential that we amplify the perspectives of colleagues and organisations based in low-and-middle-income countries in the development of our global academic partnerships.  These seven principles are now at the core of the newly established LSTM & Global Hubs Council and they guide the way in which LSTM works within long-established collaborations with partners in Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe.  It is such a delight to see the process of co-development of these principles published in PLOS Global Public Health and I look forward to working on how to strengthen their influence more widely.”

A discussion from HSG Bogota 2022 on capacity strengthening session and experience sharing on use of principles in practice

Dr Lilian Otiso, Executive Director at LVCT Health: “It was a pleasure to work with LSTM and other LMIC partners on this research to co-develop these principles. It is even more exciting to see LSTM already applying them as demonstrated in joint projects that we have with them where equitable partnerships are a core value and shared learning is practiced. I look forward to seeing the principles articulated further and forming a basis of learning for other global partnerships.”