EthiXPERT acknowledges that health and social research is critical and integral in achieving its goals, namely to inspire responsible and ethical research capacity in and for Africa. However, in order for developing countries in Africa and sub-Sahara, to conduct scientific and ethical research, there is a need to have strong and vibrant independent review systems to facilitate robust and efficient ethics reviews. Furthermore, the professional conduct and practices of those who undertake research, the institutions where they conduct their research and the organizations that fund them must always be kept under constant review to be reminded of the importance of maintaining research integrity.
Challenges this far identified in Africa and sub-Sahara:
We are aware that many countries in Africa and sub-Sahara have established Research Ethics Committees (RECs), which are operating under fragile and strenuous conditions. Numerous RECs do not have adequate human, infrastructural, financial and technological resources to facilitate timely and high-quality reviews. In addition, most REC members do not have sufficient relevant training to enable them to conduct standardized and quality ethics reviews to promote the safety and welfare of research participants. It is prudent to state that many national governments and institutions do not understand or support the role of RECs. As a result, many RECs operate without the necessary legislative framework. Consequently, they lack policy frameworks, guidelines and standard operating procedures to guide the governance and coordination of research in their country. These vulnerable practices have far reaching effects on the fairness, benefit-sharing, social value, justice, scientific and ethical soundness of health research.
Our general aim is to work with, rather than work for institutions and national governments, using a range of participatory and consultative approaches. These approaches include the engagement of key stakeholders, policy makers, opinion shapers and leaders, researchers, research institutions, RECs, REC members, administrators and community representatives. Through these engagements we strive to identify key capacity gaps and together, agree on different ways of addressing these gaps. This approach will enable us to nurture local skills and talents in health research and ethics, and collectively explore a full assignation in coming up with sustainable and appropriate solutions.
- Promote and support the ethical context of research and innovation systems and capacity as a comprehensive strategy for countries in Africa to achieve health, equity and social development;
- Consider the creation and management of a funding mechanism to intensify the implementation of the Company’s core objectives in Africa;
- Take all the actions that are relevant and necessary in the pursuit of the core objectives of the Company;
- Carry on any other activity, trade or business whatsoever which can, in the opinion of the Board, be advantageously carried on by the Company in connection with or as ancillary to any of the above objectives or the general business of the Company.
- To develop national and institutional capacities in research and ethics:
- to market and sell the online REC administration system (RHInnO Ethics) that COHRED developed.
- Provide training to research ethics committees in best practice in ethics review and protection of research participants
- Working in partnership with stakeholders where appropriate, to promote sound ethical standards for research
- Providing capacity development courses and other interventions to build the capacity of researchers in Africa