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Biology Articles » Bioethics » What are the challenges faced by research ethics committees in Africa?

What are the challenges faced by research ethics committees in Africa?

What are the challenges faced by research ethics committees in Africa?

International guidelines and many nations' laws mandate that research with humans requires prior approval from a research ethics committee (called an institutional review board or IRB in the US). A new study in PLoS Medicine examined how well these research ethics committees are functioning in Africa.

In the study, by Nancy Kass, Adnan Ali Hyder (both at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics) and their colleagues in ten African countries, researchers reported experiences of 12 different research ethics committees (RECs) from nine African countries.

The committee members said that they faced a number of challenges, including inadequate funding, staffing, and training. Many said their committees lacked expertise in considering the ethical aspects of the proposed research, which led to greater focus on scientific aspects and budget. Some research ethics committees felt that it was hard to give a truly independent assessment of the proposed research, because approving the research would lead to greater funding going to their own institution.

Respondents also mentioned several strengths of their committees. For example, many RECs have been formed recently, reflecting that ethics review increasingly is becoming the norm in Africa; further, the longer a committee has existed, the more likely it is to pay close attention to ethics and to have predictable funding.

Kass and colleagues say: "We hope that this study will help researchers in Africa better understand the landcsape of ethics review and help funders target resources for capacity development in a continent where health research is so critical to development, and local responsibility for research functions is critical for research."

Citation: Kass NE, Hyder A, Ajuwon A, Appiah-Poku J, Barsdorf N (2007) The structure and function of research ethics committees in Africa: A case study. PLoS Med 4(1): e03

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT:
http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0040003

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-04-01-kass.pdf

CONTACT:

Ed Bodensiek
Sr. Associate Director of Communications
Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
100 North Charles, Suite 740
Baltimore, MD 21201 United States of America
+1 410-516-8523

+1 410-516-8504 (fax)
ebodensiek@jhu.edu

All works published in PLoS Medicine are open access. Everything is immediately available without cost to anyone, anywhere--to read, download, redistribute, include in databases, and otherwise use--subject only to the condition that the original authorship is properly attributed. Copyright is retained by the authors. The Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License.

Quoted from EurekAlert. January 22, 2007.
Source: Public Library of Science


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