HEALTH activists have called upon researchers to prioritize safety of trial participants by necessitating “a health insurance for all participants policy” when conducting clinical research trials
By John Agaba
HEALTH activists have called upon researchers to prioritize safety of trial participants by necessitating “a health insurance for all participants policy” when conducting clinical research trials.
Activist Henry Tumwijukye making a presentation on law and bioethics at the seventh annual national research ethics conference at the Kampala Serena Hotel, deprecated the insufficient cover most trial participants were imperiled.
“It is in our interest, it is the most noble and fairer thing to do to have participants in clinical trials insured,” said the activist.
Dr. Stella Neema, a senior lecturer from the Makerere University College of Humanities, said emphasis should be put on safety of trial participants.
“Every participant needs to feel that they are safe and that they are protected. They need to be compensated in case there is any adverse effect,” said Stella Neema.
She called for honesty, trust, and confidentiality during clinical trials.
The conference, organized by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) under the theme ‘Understanding Vulnerability in Research’, called upon researchers to prioritize the participants’ welfare.
Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, in a statement read by state minister for finance (planning) David Bahati, called on researchers to maximize the potential benefit of research while minimizing its potential risk.
However, Dr. Julius Ecuru, the UNCST assistant executive secretary, said trial participants are insured for the duration of the study and the follow-up period.
For compensation, he said participants are given transport refunds and reimbursements that range from about sh5000 to about sh50, 000.
“You cannot say you want to standardize the compensation. If you are carrying out a study in Amuria (district) for example and give sh50,000 to participants, you will coerce people into participating in the trial,” said Ecuru. “This too is unethical.”
He said that for every clinical trial approved in Uganda, there are checks verified to ensure participants’ safety.
Stella Neema decried the minimal trials conducted among vulnerable communities, especially refugees, commercial sex workers, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) minorities.
Uganda has had its contribution to find new medicine to diseases that continue to plague humanity. The country has hosted a number of research trials.
In 2007, it gave the world safe male circumcision as a new component in the fight against HIV, after trials conducted at the Medical Research Centre in Masaka and in Kenya and South Africa showed the intervention could reduce female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by about 60%.
There are various Phase I and Phase II trials still ongoing especially at the Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) and the Makerere University John Hopkins collaboration (MUJHU).
The country is also participating in a Phase I trial to find an Ebola vaccine.
“There are over 10s of thousands of Ugandan men, women, and children that participate in these research trials. Maximum care and safety is the least we can give them,” said UNCST boss, Dr. Theresa Ssengoba.
Activists want insurance for crinical trial subjects