Community engagement is increasingly promoted to
strengthen the ethics of medical research in low-income countries. One
strategy is to use community advisory boards (CABs): semi-independent groups
that can potentially safeguard the rights of study participants and help
improve research. However, there is little published on the experience of
operating and sustaining CABs. The Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) has been
conducting research and providing healthcare in a population of refugees,
migrant workers, and displaced people on the Thai-Myanmar border for over 25
years. In 2009 SMRU facilitated the establishment of the Tak Province Community
Ethics Advisory Board (T-CAB) in an effort to formally engage with the local
communities both to obtain advice and to establish a participatory framework
within which studies and the provision of health care can take place. In this
paper, we draw on our experience of community engagement in this unique setting,
and on our interactions with the past and present CAB members to critically reflect
upon the CAB’s goals, structure and operations with a focus on the
practicalities, what worked, what did not, and on its future directions.
Cite this paper
Lwin, K. , Peto, T. , White, N. , Day, N. , Nosten, F. , Parker, M. and Cheah, P. (2013) The practicality and sustainability of a community advisory board at a large medical research unit on the Thai-Myanmar border. Health, 5, 229-236. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.52031.
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