Abha Saxena

Professeure invitée

Dr. Abha Saxena has more than fifteen years of experience in global health and research ethics, having joined WHO in 2001. She managed the research ethics programme and the Research ethics review committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) from 2002 to 2018, and coordinated the Global Health Ethics team from 2013 to 2018. As the coordinator of Global Health Ethics team, she led the development of numerous normative documents and guidelines, established a public health ethics consultative group for WHO staff members, liaised with international organizations also working in the area of bioethics, and provided leadership to the Research ethics review committee of WHO.  This led to the development of Standards for review of health related research, the ethical standards for patient safety research, the ethics  guidelines for managing TB, ethics guidelines for management of infectious disease outbreaks, the ethics guidelines for public health surveillance (see full list of ethics related publications developed under her leadership at She has also provided leadership to the Global Summit of National Bioethics Committees, which brings together national bioethics committees from around the world every two years – for identifying ethical concerns that have global relevance,  for networking and for learning from each other. The Summit held in 2018 in Dakar, brought together more than 70 countries.

Following her transition from the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2018, Dr. Saxena has focused her attention to training, and research in global bioethics, and following her interest in the ethics of health systems research, human challenge studies, and of new technologies such as gene editing, big data and AI and neuro-technological advances. She has concurrent affiliation to the INCLEN Trust International, an international network of clinical epidemiologists, based in New Delhi. Dr. Saxena is the Senior Bioethics adviser to the INCLEN Trust where she has responsibility for training and mentoring young researchers, as well as advising their Ethics Committee.

She has conducted numerous workshops on research ethics not only for WHO staff but at the national level for countries like Sierra- Leone, Liberia, Uganda, Nigeria, amongst others. She has also conducted regional workshops for health systems research ethics in Indonesia, and for field epidemiologists in Thailand, and Brussels. 


Selected publications

  • Placebo use in vaccine trials: recommendations of a WHO expert panel. A Rid, A Saxena, AH Baqui, A Bhan, J Bines, MC Bouesseau, A Caplan, Vaccine 32 (37), 4708-4712
  • Ethical issues in public health surveillance: a systematic qualitative review. C Klingler, DS Silva, C Schuermann, AA Reis, A Saxena, D Strech. BMC public health 17 (1), 295
  • Developing the ethics of implementation research in health. V Gopichandran, VA Luyckx, N Biller-Andorno, A Fairchild, J Singh, ...Implementation Science 11 (1), 161
  • Ethics review of studies during public health emergencies-the experience of the WHO ethics review committee during the Ebola virus disease epidemic. E Alirol, AC Kuesel, MM Guraiib, V de la Fuente-Núñez, A Saxena, ...BMC medical ethics 18 (1), 43
  • Ethical Issues in Patient Safety Research: A systematic review of the literature. DM Whicher, NE Kass, C Audera-Lopez, M Butt, IL Jauregui, K Harris, ...Journal of patient safety 11 (3), 174-184
  • Ethical challenges to responding to the Ebola epidemic: the World Health Organization experience. A Saxena, M Gomes. Clinical Trials 13 (1), 96-100
  • Medical ethics manual. RW Peeling, A Saxena. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 84, 159-160
  • Protected to death: systematic exclusion of pregnant women from Ebola virus disease trials. MF Gomes, V de la Fuente-Núñez, A Saxena, AC Kuesel. Reproductive health 14 (3), 172
  • Ethics of public health surveillance: new guidelines. AL Fairchild, AA Haghdoost, R Bayer, MJ Selgelid, A Dawson, A Saxena, The Lancet Public Health 2 (8), e348-e349
  • Beyond Research Ethics: Novel Approaches of 3 Major Public Health Institutions to Provide Ethics Input on Public Health Practice Activities. C Klingler, DH Barrett, N Ondrusek, JBR Johnson, A Saxena, AA Reis. Journal of public health management and practice: JPHMP
  • Rapid qualitative review of ethical issues surrounding healthcare for pregnant women or women of reproductive age in epidemic outbreaks. P Hummel, A Saxena, C Klingler. Epidemiology and health 40
  • Equity and healthy ageing. S Venkatapuram, HJ Ehni, A Saxena.Bulletin of the World Health Organization 95 (11), 791
  • Health policy and systems research: towards a better understanding and review of ethical issues. VA Luyckx, N Biller-Andorno, A Saxena, NT Tran. BMJ global health 2 (2), e000314