The UNCST- Accreditation Committee members,
The Chairperson, Forum for Research Ethics Committee Chairpersons,
Research Ethics Committee Chairpersons in Uganda,
The Former, Accreditation Committee members,
The Former, Research Ethics Committee Chairpersons,
The Former, National HIV/AIDS Research Committee members,
Representatives from the National Drug Authority,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with great pleasure to welcome you all to this 34th Forum for Research Ethics Committee Chairpersons in Uganda (FRECU) Meeting. The Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) established the Forum for Research Ethics Chairpersons as a platform for the Chairpersons, to discuss pertinent scientific and ethical issues arising from reviewed research protocols and best research practices worldwide. Quarterly meetings of this forum have been held since 2010.
The Chairpersons also discuss issues that concern the proper functioning of RECs and make recommendations to UNCST for improvement and promotion of ethical research in the country. The Forum currently has a representation of twenty (28) accredited Research Ethics Committees across the country.
The RECs conduct initial and continuing review of research projects with the primary goal of protecting rights and welfare of research participants. I would like to thank the RECs for tremendous work which has led to an annual increase of 9.6 % in research registered at UNCST. Over 10,000 research protocols are registered annually.
I wish to welcome the newly appointed accreditation Committee that has been diversified to accommodate the regulatory oversight of use of animals in research and teaching. As the UNCST – Accreditation Committee, you are charged with improving the efficiency and effectiveness of RECs and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) operations in Uganda as per the National and International standards.
Today’s FRECU meeting is very important because we are going to honour and recognize the previous and some long serving REC Chairpersons, previous Accreditation Committee members and previous National HIV/AIDS Research Committee (NARC) members. As UNCST we are very proud of your profound service.
The UNCST has continued to improve its partnerships in execution of its Research Regulatory role. We are collaborating with the National Drug Authority, Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kenya, National Institute for Medical Research and Mihimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania, University of Malawi College of Medicine and University of Kigali Rwanda, to strengthen clinical research regulation and ethics capacity. This collaboration specifically aims to:
1.Develop and integrate online research information management systems for the partner countries.
2.Strengthen the capacity of the National Regulatory Agencies (NRAs), National Ethics Committees (NECs), Research Ethics Committees (RECs) in those countries for better quality outputs and improved review timelines and
3.Strengthen the oversight role of Research Ethics Committees and NRAs in clinical research through regional harmonization initiatives, such as integrating principles, tools and guidelines issued by AVAREF and WHO.
I would like to commend the members of the Research Ethics Committees for persevering through the COVID-19 Pandemic and for the support that your host institutions provided during that time. I am informed that REC work did not stall because you were meeting virtually to review and approval research protocols.
In closing, I wish to also extend my deepest thanks to the REC Chairpersons for the guidance and commitment in promoting ethical research in the country. The Chairpersons who previously served the RECs, the former Accreditation Committee members and former NARC members, for honoring our invitation and for the zeal and commitment you had during your term of service. I also wish to thank the UNCST staff for all the effort put in organizing this meeting.
With these remarks, I wish you fruitful deliberations and I hope that we shall benefit from each other’s participation.