CSIR inaugurates Institutional Review Board
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Thursday inaugurated a nine-member Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to have oversight responsibility over research conducted on humans and animals.
The IRB and IACUC are to ensure the observance of sound scientific and ethical principles in research and also be responsible in determining the basic ethical principles and guidelines that would assist in resolving the ethical problems in the conduct of research involving humans and animal subjects.
The Board would review research protocols and related materials to ensure protection of rights and welfare of human subjects and humane use of animals for research and teaching.
Dr Abdulai Baba Salifu, Director-General of the CSIR, said the inauguration of the Board and Committee heralded a new dimension with particular reference to what was the required modus operandi as regards the use of human and animal subjects for data collection and analysis.
He mentioned some of the critical research areas that called for attention in this regard as epidemiological or parasitological studies, clinical trials of new drugs or devices, health care systems and delivery and research on personal or social behaviour, opinions and attitudes.
Dr Salifu indicated that the IRB and IACUC would be expected to ensure that risks to human subjects were minimised and reasonable in relation to anticipated benefits from research and also ensure the equitable selection of research subjects.
The Board must ensure appropriate documentation of informed consent and also ensure that provisions were made for the protection of the privacy of subjects and that confidentiality of data obtained from research participants was maintained.
He said the IACUC would be responsible for reviewing and approving protocols relating to research involving the use and care of animals and conduct independent reviews at specified time intervals at the research facility’s programme for the human care and use of animals.
Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST), in a speech read for her, lauded the CSIR for taken concrete steps to establish the two institutions which would put in place comprehensive human and animal subject protection mechanisms, to ensure that the rights and welfare of research subjects were protected.
She said without the IRB, it was becoming increasingly difficult to obtain research grants from most of the developed countries as well as publish research papers in peer-reviewed journals without ethical clearance for studies involving human and animal subjects.
Ms Ayittey said most of such funding agencies often had it as a policy requirement that each animal using institution should have a committee to maintain oversight of its animal care and use programme.
The Minister expressed worry that to date, Ghana had no national framework or guidelines to govern the conduct of research with human subjects.
She, however, expressed the hope that the current institutions of the CISR and others established by other institutions would catalyse the formation of a National Ethical Review Board, to provide a national framework and guidelines for the conduct of research with human participants.