Benatar (2002) points out the unfair distribution of research resources and worldwide. According to his research, in the 1990’s, less than 10% of the money spent in medical research was destined to health problems in developing countries. This amount does not match with the final cost with diseases and number of deaths due to health conditions though. Yet, according to Benatar’s study, developing countries hold 80% of the global burden of disease, and life expectancy on those nations is bellow 50 years, while in developed countries is up to 70 (Benatar 2002). Therefore, it is clear the injustice in how research has been done in the world. 18 million of people die every year of infectious and parasitic diseases, and little has been done to change this scenario (Benatar 2002). This is also extremely alarming because it absolutely does not match with the concept of avoiding exploitation of vulnerable people, which is based on human protection and fairness. Where are the fairness and the commitment to humanity protection if the interests of only a few are taken into account?
Another important highlight of Benatar’s (2002) paper is the fact that research unfairness has been overlooked over the years, just as racism, gender discrimination and abuse. Therefore, changing this situation should be one of our major challenges from now on. One way to do this, as suggested by Benatar (2002), might be by giving more credit and merit to projects that aim to provide effective, reliable and low-cost solutions to developing countries’ problems, such as AIDS and other infectious diseases that remain unsolved.
I believe that reflecting on this subject is fundamental to all of us, but especially for those who enjoy and intend to pursue a career in research. What is going to be your focus when you become one of the ones that make decisions in terms of what is going to be investigated? What will be your priorities? We surely need to know our obligations in terms of copyright, plagiarism, obvious exploitation of vulnerable, but what about our commitment to the relevance of our research, not only in our daily context, but also considering the problems that we do not face every day, although they affect a lot of people in the world? Benatar’s research made me think a great deal about this and I believe this reflection may be useful for all my colleagues that, just like me, love research and have plans to make a career out of it.
References: Benatar, S. (2002). Reflections and recommendations on research ethics in developing countries.
** If you have a couple of minutes, visit the page (link bellow) and watch the video about the causes of death in the world. The image illustration this post was also retrieved from this website: https://www.vox.com/2015/8/19/9173873/death-early-map
Post by Danielle Aquino.