Consultative Workshop on Research Ethics and Regulatory Capacity in The Gambia

The Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science, and Technology participated in a three-day Ethic and Regulatory Capacity (ERC) Project Consultative Workshop organized by the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia, at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (MRC at LSHTM). The three-day workshop commenced on the 4th to the 6th of October, 2022.

The ERC Project, initiated by MRC at LSHTM and funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trails Partnership (EDCTP), aims to build robust ethics and regulatory governing framework to enhance the ethics and regulatory capacity of The Gambia, establish institutional research ethic committees, and ensuring optimum protection and research participants.

The purpose of the workshop is to identify the ethical review needs of the beneficiary institutions and develop solutions that will allow these institutions to form operational ethics committees with the adequate knowledge, skills, and systems required by an ethics committee.

In his opening remark, the Director of Research at MoHERST, James Gomez informed participants of the recently validated National Research Policy. In the new National Research Policy, he said, pronouncements were made in setting up a National Research Ethics Committee in The Gambia, while encouraging the existence of international or local ethic committees. Mr. James Gomez went on to highlight that research should lead to development. Thus, he urges tertiary and higher education institutions in The Gambia to be innovative and ensure research outputs go beyond the classrooms or laboratories. Furthermore, Mr. Gomez called on all stakeholders to work together in identifying needed capacities, thus, the significance of the consultative workshop.

The representative from the Ministry of Health underlined the significance of creating systems that regulate research in the country. Thus, she stated that the workshop is timely and apt.

Davis Nwakanma, Chief Operations Officer (MRC at LSHTM) thanked the government of The Gambia for its continued support, research partners for their active participation, facilitating partners for the ethics training, and participants for their participation. According to Mr. Nwakanma, health research is important to the survival of humans. Thus, it is important to have a National Regulatory framework that guides research ethics in the country.  

Elizabeth Batchilly, the Head of Research Support and Governance Services (MRC at LSHTM) and Principal Investigator PI of the ERC Study, gave an overview of the ERC project. She introduced the project’s four (4) partners, including MRCGH, Medicines Control Agency (MCA), EthiXPERT, and Pharmalys.

The project began on the 1st of July 2021 and will end on June 30th, 2023. The outcome of the consultative workshop will be the development of a National Ethics and Research Regulatory Framework that will be used as a benchmark for the conduct of research in The Gambia.