Due to the unethical activities of some medical researchers, measures have been taken by the relevant authorities to ensure that the interest of the vulnerable population is protected. Those who are more prone to such abuses include children, the elderly, and the institutionalized in the society. It is therefore the responsibility of the government to introduce guidelines as to how humans are used in the research that borders on their wellbeing.
However, critics are quick to argue that, even though there are documents that states how humans are treated during such research, lack of common front to check non-conformists has been the bane of such documents. Against this backdrop, the Nuremberg Code has been identified as the only credible statement that outlines and defines medical research ethics as widely known today. Even then, analysts are of the view that it is short in enforcing or interpreting the contents to the letter. Furthermore, they think that, Nuremberg Code does not allow for normal ethical-friendly research about children including psychiatric and emergency due largely to the insistent on voluntary consent.
The Declaration of Helsinki which was drafted as a direct improvement on the Nuremberg Code came by way of the World Medical Association’s response to those areas in which the Code did not give the opportunity of consent to the vulnerable population such as children, and the mentally ill patients. Of the five propositions mentioned in the resolution, three of them clearly drew attention to the issues of qualification, responsibility, and prudence as expected of the participating physicians, including respecting individual subjects who are involved in the research.
The Belmont Report is another attempt at addressing the problems associated with the issue of ethics in medical research. In the report, rules were outlined for the purpose of guiding and distinguishing between biomedical and behavioral research, including the issue of acceptable therapy, all in efforts to protecting the interest of humans involved in medical research. Basic ethical principles highlighted in the report include the respect for persons, beneficence, and justice, which stipulates who should receive the benefits, and probably bear the burdens of research.
The general principles’ applicability resulted in the consideration of informed consent, the subjects of research to be selected and the assessment of benefit and risk as envisaged during such research. Other areas considered worthy of mention are the issue of comprehensiveness of the method by which subjects of research are allowed to make informed choice that directly affect their wellbeing.
My support for the subjects of medical research to have access to adequate and relevant information regarding the effect of the research on their lives can not be overemphasized. I think the interest of the subjects especially the vulnerable population should be protected at all times, and should be viewed as important as the research itself.