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.