The Universidad Mayor de San Andr?s (UMSA) School of Medicine, Bolivian Ministry of Health and Sports, and other Bolivian partners propose a dynamic research education program to improve knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to conducting ethical health research. A Comprehensive Bolivia Specific Multi- level Research Ethics Education Program is central to providing a sustainable approach to strengthening research ethics committees and improving participation in the ethical conduct of research. The long-term goal is to transform the Bolivian research culture to integrate ethical public health research into the education and research practice of health care practitioners and investigators. The objective of the Planning Grant is to support activities to prepare for the implementation of the comprehensive Bolivian research ethics program. The education model is a comprehensive multi-level program required to develop an effective and sustainable approach to significantly improve the conduct of ethical public health research among Bolivian academics, researchers and health professionals. The study aims of the program are to determine the components of 1) targeted educational campaigns emphasizing the importance of ethical conduct of research 2) a masters level education program for researchers, academicians, and health professionals3) developing models for regional Research Councils and Research Ethics Committees (RECs) that will provide policy and educational support to local institutions and groups and 4) a community based certificate training program to increase the participation of community members on RECs and raise awareness about ethical public health research involving human subjects. Information will be gathered to provide additional knowledge for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the program components. Key informant interviews, surveys, and focus groups will be conducted in 2 Bolivian states to answer more specific questions related to research ethics at the university, ministerial, and community levels. Understanding research ethics knowledge levels, successful programs and challenges, available resources, learning styles/methods, community concerns and the current status of research ethics in Bolivia will be instrumental for the program planning activities as well as serve as a baseline for future program evaluations. The rationale for our proposed program is that, once the components are implemented, Bolivian academics, researchers and health professionals will have the interest, knowledge, skills, and supportive infrastructure to conduct ethically responsible public health research. With the implementation of a comprehensive multi-level (university, Ministry of Health and Sports infrastructure and community) research ethics program, a significant advancement in the conduct of ethical public health research will be realized in Bolivia. This multifaceted program is designed to provide needed theories, structure, skills and sustainability for conducting public health research with ethical integrity and participation for Bolivian researchers, academics, health care workers and citizens.
The proposed program is relevant to public health because a Comprehensive Multi-level Research Ethics Education program is needed to strengthen and sustain the capacity to support ethical public health re- search in Bolivia. Functioning Research Ethics Committees (RECs) are needed in Bolivia to identify vulnerable populations and ensure their protection and welfare and addressing these social equity issues is critical for the Bolivian people and government to reach their mandates and goals. With the implementation of a Multi-level Research Ethics program, a significant advancement in the conduct of ethical public health research among academics, researchers and health professionals will be realized in Bolivia. The program is relative to the NIH's mission because the program promotes the highest level of scientific integrity, public accountability, and social responsibility in the conduct of science (National Institute of Health, 2011).