Do we need different ethical standards for observational research as compared to experimental study designs like randomised controlled trials (RCT)? Should we allow different standards of care if the research is funded and carried out by local research councils in developing countries without external sponsors? How could we carry out clinical research in resource-constrained, publicly-funded healthcare facilities without compromising the quality of care given to research participants? These questions are discussed against the backdrop of an observational research study undertaken by the national medical research council in a south Asian country in the 1970s to determine which lesions of cervical dysplasia gradually progress to malignant changes.
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