23 January 2011 – In December 2011, the US Presidential Commission for the study of Bioethical issues presented its report to President Obama. The report, entitled Moral Science: Protecting participants in human subjects research contains a thorough review of US regulations and standards to assess their adequacy to protect human participants in research. The report mentions efforts by agencies independent of the US as making “notable” efforts to improve human participant protections in studies conducted outside the US. One of the projects mentioned is a collaboration between the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) and the UKZN School of Psychology (Pmb campus), funded by a competitive grant from the European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) which is locating and mapping all Research Ethics Committees (RECs) in Africa on an interactive web based platform through Health Research Web. The full text of the citation is on p. 49 of the Presidential Commission’s report:
“Other notable efforts to enhance accountability and access to information about human subjects research are also underway. For example, “Health Research Web,” initiated by the Council on Health Research for Development, an international nongovernmental organization whose primary objective is to strengthen research for health and innovation, compiles information on studies taking place around the world, as well as information about IRBs and research ethics committees, countries’ governance policies, and other useful data.”
Ms Boitumelo Mokgatla-Moipolai is the senior research officer on the research ethics component of Health Research Web, and Prof Carel IJsselmuiden, Director of COHRED and adjunct professor at UKZN is the PI, with Prof Doug Wassenaar as the UKZN Co-PI. The project has also attracted major interest and engagement from Latin American countries that have logged over 1000 RECs on the system to date. Pfizer has also funded the parallel capturing of all Drug Regulatory Authorities on the system which will eventually provide a single up-to-date resource on all African ethics research and regulatory systems to facilitate the ethical conduct of health research in Africa.