A Center of Excellence for Biomedical Research and Training in Africa
  
  

Ethics
Research Unit

The
Ethics Research Unit Zimbabwe has a long history of conducting health research
studies most of which are in collaboration with institutions in the sub-region,
Europe and North America. The increasing collaboration in health research
between industrialized and developing countries continues to cause concern
regarding the potential for exploitation of human subjects in developing
countries, especially in view of the ongoing need for clinical trials for
anti-retroviral therapies and the treatment of opportunistic infections in
resource limited settings.

Few
studies have been conducted on the ethical conduct of clinical trials and
therefore there is limited information and evidence that can be used to
formulate plans and policies. Of particular concern is the lack of research
initiated and conducted by researchers in the developing countries themselves.
With the growth in international collaborative research, it is imperative that
researchers from both developing and industrialized countries continually
advance their understanding of their own perspectives on ethical review as well
as the perspectives of their partners. This can be achieved by developing
communication strategies that promote dialogue between researchers and ethics
boards with a view to ensuring that both parties are responsive to the needs of
each other.

It is
against this background that an Ethics Research Unit (ERU) was set up at the
BRTI in 2008 with financial support from the European and Developing Countries
Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). The Unit currently comprises seven members
as follows: two scientists, a medical expert with years of experience in
ethics; one Research Officer, one Documentation Officer, a Finance Consultant
and an Information Technology Officer. The focus of the Unit is research and
communication of ethical issues surrounding research involving human subjects
in Africa.

Specifically,
the objectives of the Unit are as follows:

  • To respond to the research
    needs in the ethical conduct and review of human subjects research in
    Southern Africa and provide evidence that can be used for policy
    development and planning
  • To strengthen the
    administrative capacity of current and future ethical review committees to
    provide efficient, effective and timely review of research proposals
  • To assist researchers in
    ensuring that their studies accord with ethical research principles
    through the dissemination of guidelines on ethical issues in heath
    research to researchers
  • To improve the awareness of
    researchers of good research practice through the production and
    dissemination of an ethics handbook and regular electronic newsletter that
    highlights key issues in the conduct of ethical research

In
fulfilling its obligations, the Unit consults with the Research Council of
Zimbabwe (RCZ), the body responsible for overseeing all research in Zimbabwe,
the Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe (MRCZ), which hosts the National
Ethics Committee and the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ)
responsible for all clinical trials research involving drugs, medicines and
devises. It also collaborates with the College of Health Sciences (CHS) of the
University of Zimbabwe.

Clinical Trials


Our Future

With the contributions from a dedicated and professional staff complement, BRTI has achieved  20 years of continuing growth. From its inception in 1995, the BRTI has strived to become a a centre for excellence in health research and training in Africa. We are confident that the philosophy behind the formation of BRTI, that African scientists must take responsibility for improving their own working environment, was correct. We predict that, in spite of a degree of economic uncertainty in Zimbabwe, the gains that have been made during these years can be consolidated and expanded. We look forward to the future with confidence.

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