Annual National Research Ethics Conference | 2009 to Date
UNCST has adopted the concept of the annual research ethics conference to provide a forum for sharing experiences, building capacities, sensitising the public and identifying options for addressing ethical dilemmas experienced in the conduct of research in Uganda. Research ethics is rapidly evolving in Uganda, with some considerable progress made in terms of policy reforms and establishment of the requisite institutional and regulatory mechanisms, at national level, to ensure that the rights and welfare of human research participants are protected in the conduct of research. This among other interventions seeks to contribute towards: improving the efficiency in research protocol review; developing research policies; building research ethics capacities of investigators and ethics committees; and sensitization of the public and resolving of ethical dilemmas that may arise during the conduct of research in Uganda.
Since 2009, UNCST has organised an Annual National Research Ethics Conference (ANREC) every July, as a platform for interaction among the various actors in the research enterprise. The ANREC brings together researchers, regulators, policy makers, members of research ethics committees, civil society and research communities, to share experiences and discuss contemporary issues relevant for human subject’s research in Uganda and the region.
To date, seven such annual meetings have been successfully held, and considerable progress in research ethics has been made in terms of policy reforms and the establishment of the requisite institutional and regulatory mechanisms, at national level.
The objectives of this conference
- Improve the efficiency in research protocol review
- Sensitise the public to resolve ethical dilemmas that may arise during the conduct of research in Uganda.
- Build research ethics capacities of investigators and ethics committees
- Discuss topical and emerging bioethical issues.
- Develop research policies
- Integrate ethical considerations in the design and implementation of research projects.
- Discuss how research institutions and universities can build credible, reliable and predictable systems for scientific and ethical review of research projects.
- Engage Communities in research in a manner that does not compromise the rights and welfare of the research participants.
- Improve institutional policies and guidelines responsiveness cultural norms and social practices that influence research in Uganda.
- Enhance researchers’ understanding of research ethics in cross-cultural settings and improve their practices and attitudes
- Provide a platform for deliberating on Uganda’s effectiveness in applying research ethics principles during research conduct.
- Make researchers, research ethics committees (RECs), policy makers and communities more proactive in adhering to the principles of research ethics in their work and communities.
A team of experts including ethicists, researchers, REC members and staff of the UNCST carefully select the conference theme and sub-themes addressing both emerging and topical issues pertaining to research ethics. They also identify participants and facilitators for the conference.
Participation and funding
Over the years the Conference has managed to bring together over 1000 participants, these include members of Research Ethics Committees, principal investigators from academic and research institutions in Uganda, representatives of regulatory bodies, media practitioners, as well as experts in bioethics and health research.
The Conference has mainly been sponsored by the Government of Uganda through Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST).
Other partners in the past years have been European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP); National Drug Authority; Johns Hopkins University; in partnership with the Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention (AVAC); Uganda National Health Research Organization (UNHRO) and World Health Organization (WHO).