Dear Ethics Committee Administrator
Rethinking Ethics Review in Africa: Operating RECs in a VUCA Context
VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Operating in a VUCA context entails a situation where there are constant and unpredictable changes. As such, VUCA demands quick adjustment of traditional methods and prompt adaptation to new management and leadership approaches to accommodate recent trends.
The recent past has exposed what has traditionally been a phlegmatic ethics review system to a VUCA context. Characterised by a desperate need for timeous decision-making making, rigorous review, often without adequate, reliable information, this has caused serious disruptions in how RECs are expected to operate. In Africa, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health emergencies, coupled with the invention of new technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, personalised medicine, virtual research methodologies and gene editing, among others, have forced RECs to rethink their traditional approaches of ethics review and decision making. This context can affect how research is conceptualised, reviewed, and conducted following approval. Furthermore, how RECs have navigated through the various disruptions and the different decision-making models they adopted can offer a new frontier that can inform the development of REC’s skills for resilience and preparedness for future public health emergencies.
EthiXPERT (https://www.ethixpert.org.za), a Non-Profit Company registered in South Africa, aims to build responsible and ethical research capacity in and for Africa. In its 2023 Webinar series, EthiXPERT hopes to bring together experts and research stakeholders in research ethics and integrity to reflect on the experiences, including the challenges, disruptions and opportunities presented by different contexts that demand RECs to consider new ways of operation. Participants will be engaged to share their experiences navigating the unique challenges and identify new operational considerations.