Do Tanzanian hospitals need healthcare ethics committees? Report on the 2014 Dartmouth/Penn Research Ethics Training and Program Development for Tanzania (DPRET) workshop
Ethical issues are common in the global community. The shortage of human and medical resources when working with vulnerable populations requires institutional support to address the challenges that often arise in the patient-provider relationship. The 2014 Dartmouth/Penn Research Ethics Training and Program Development for Tanzania (DPRET) workshop centred on discussions about research and clinical ethics issues unique to Tanzanian healthcare providers. This article discusses some of the ethical challenges that workshop participants reported in their day-to-day work life with patients and families, such as truth-telling, disagreements over treatment plans and patient distrust of local physicians and hospital staff, among others. The Tanzanian participants recognised the need for supportive mechanisms within their local hospital environments. Further dialogue and research on the development of institutional ethics committees within hospital systems is critically needed so that healthcare providers can meet their ethical and professional obligations to patients and families and address ethical conflicts that arise in a timely and productive fashion.