COVID-19 and unintended steps towards further equity in global health research
Willows TM., Oliwa J., Onyango O., Mkumbo E., Maiba J., Schell CO., Baker T., McKnight J.
There was, and possibly still is, potential for COVID-19 to disrupt power inequities and contribute to positive transformation in global health research that increases equity. While there is consensus about the need to decolonise by transforming global health, and a roadmap outlining how we could approach it, there are few examples of steps that could be taken to transform the mechanics of global health research. This paper contributes lessons learnt from experiences and reflections of our diverse multinational team of researchers involved in a multicountry research project. We demonstrate the positive impact on our research project of making further steps towards improving equity within our research practices. Some of the approaches adopted include redistributing power to researchers from the countries of interest at various stages in their career, by involving the whole team in decisions about the research; meaningfully involving the whole team in research data analysis; and providing opportunities for all researchers from the countries of interest to voice their perspectives as first authors in publications. Although this approach is consistent with how research guidance suggests research should be run, in reality it does not often happen in this way. The authors of this paper hope that by sharing our experience, we can contribute towards discussions about the processes required to continue developing a global health sector that is equitable and inclusive.