Amref Ethics and Scientific Review Committee

by Amref Health Africa

Amref Ethics and Scientific Review Committee (Amref ESRC) held a one-week workshop from November 28, 2022, to December 2, 2022.

The workshop, which brought together all the members of the Ethics and Scientific Review Committee was aimed at building their capacity in the review of clinical trials; UNESCO Normative Instruments that provide guidelines on various ethical aspects; Review of the ESRC online previewed plan for the next phase; and review the years’ performance and plan for the next year. The workshop was graced by Amref Health Africa in Kenya’s Deputy Country Director – Mr. Gilbert Wangalwa and Science Analyst at the National Commission of Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI), Teresia Nyawira. During his remarks, Mr. Wangalwa challenged the ESRC to align its agenda to the changing global environment and position itself as a thought leader in addressing ethical issues related to social determinants of health including climate change, urbanization, primary health care, health literacy, and Community empowerment for sustainable development.

Mr. Wangalwa also acknowledged that we are currently in the 4th Industrial revolution which is driven by technology and applauded the ESRC for establishing an online system for protocol reviews. In addition, he reiterated the need for ESCR to strengthen the system for improved efficiency in protocol reviews. Further, he encouraged ESRC members to invest in the provision of Technical Assistance in matters of research ethics and mentor young and upcoming Institutional Scientific and Ethics Review Committees in Kenya.

Mrs. Teresia Nyawira from NACOSTI acknowledged Amref’s ESRC as one of the top 5 leading ESRC s that conduct quality and efficient reviews. She noted that the ESRC has made great strides in supporting scientific and ethics reviews especially since the space of research in Kenya has since increased and become complex. She challenged the ESRC to continue building capacity of its members on new emerging areas with ethical challenges including medical research, Genomic studies and the use of technology. The workshop was facilitated by Prof. Omu Anzala from Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative who took the members through a session on Clinical Trials; Charity Muchoki from NACOSTI who highlighted NACOSTI guidelines on research, licensing and reporting. Dr. Orpha Nyakundi and Mr. Bonface Wanyama from Kenya National Commission of UNESCO took members through UNESCO’s recommendations on Science and Scientific Researchers, normative instruments on the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, Human genetic data and recommendations on ethics of Artificial Intelligence. The committee got an opportunity to learn about the Components of the Current Kenya Data Protection Act.

Key recommendations

  • Need for the ESRC to take lead as a thought leader to address ethical challenges emanating from emerging areas. This could be achieved through fostering debates, cross-learning with other ESRCs,
  • Encourage investigators to ensure study findings are communicated to communities, County, and National Governments to adopt learnings and best practices from studies to influence policy
  • Support in building capacity of other ESRCs, especially on how to improve efficiency and integrate technology in the proposal review process

In closing, Mr. Wangalwa lauded all the ESRC members and secretariat with leadership from Prof. Karama for the hard work, commitment and sacrifice to ensure ESRC functions efficiently.

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