The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Good Clinical Practice Alliance, Europe, brought together about 25 health researchers, professors, and experts from Africa and Europe to kick-start the process of developing guidelines for health research in Africa . The new projet, known as AFROguide, focuses on developing Africa 's legal and regulatory framework for health research.
Present at the expert group meeting were the Director of the ICT, Science and Technology Division (ISTD) of ECA, Ms. Aida Opoku-Mensah, the Executive Director of Good Clinical Practice Alliance,
Europe , Mr. Francis P. Crawley, and the ICT Senior Policy Officer of the Human Resources, Science and Technology Department of the AUC, Mr. Esam M. Abulkhirat.
The meeting at the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 25-26 November 2008, was a follow-up to the conference on “Science with Africa,” also held in Addis Ababa from 3-7 March 2008 to promote the use of science and technology innovation for Africa’s development.
At that event, organized by the ECA in collaboration with the AUC and other UN agencies and partners, there were calls for the need to establish commonly accepted African and international standards for research promotion and human subjects protections.” That decision made it necessary for the African continent to develop its own guidelines for ethics and good clinical practice for the development of investment and outcomes in African health needs, among other considerations.
Opening last week’s meeting, Ms. Opoku-Mensah called for political will from African leaders, who she said “require support from health research experts and African communities for developing the relevant legal, regulatory, and practical guidance to promote health research and the protection of human subjects involved in health research."
Responding, AUC’s Abulkhirat said: “We are trying to mobilize the political will at the continental level. In the next couple of weeks we will have a meeting in Abuja , Nigeria , for the African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology - AMCOST.”
Later at the meeting, Mr. Crawley presented the project goal of the AFROguide, which includes the creation of an African model law, adopted by the African Union’s General Assembly to strengthen legal and regulatory systems for health research on the continent.
He also talked about the need to develop a comprehensive dataset, enlisting the support of all interested parties, and the inclusion of experts from African countries in drafting the guidelines.
The meeting agreed upon steps to be taken by AFROguide experts and stakeholders under the auspices of ECA to achieve set goals, including mobilizing the necessary resources for the project; networking to provide for essential capacity building and ensuring cross-fertilization and impact across all regions and sectors of African communities.
They also agreed on strategies to implement the model laws, policies and practices at the continental, regional, national and local levels.