Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete has emphasized that all research involving human beings should be reviewed by an independent Research Ethics Committee (REC) to ensure that appropriate ethical standards are being upheld.
He opened the National Consultation on Governance for the National Human Research Ethics.
“It is equally important that the Research Ethics Committee exists under a national policy or legislative framework that has an appropriate and sustainable system to monitor the quality and effectiveness of research ethics review with prescribed guidelines and standards.”
Dr. Waqainabete noted that these guidelines should help promote the ethical conduct of research and protect the rights and well-being of research participants and communities.
He said a key component of research ethics guideline is that research should be subject to the outcome of an independent ethical review by a competent REC, and not after the research began or has been completed.
“Furthermore, research should not be reviewed or approved by any other authority or through any other means, and certainly not through a request to the office of the Minister which used to happen in the past – I know the former Minister can attest to this- and it’s something that I, in my current role, will never accommodate moving forward.
“The intention of the review by the Review Ethics Committee is to ensure that the ethical principles and practice put forward in the guidelines are complied with in the proposed research.”
Dr. Waqainabete challenged participants to come up with a new system of Human Research Ethics Review that is adaptable, efficient, effective but robust enough to protect Fijians from any harmful research.
Alongside medical officers, participants include representatives from the World Health Organization, consultants, senior officials from the Ministry of Education, Department of Immigration and Fiji Higher Education Commission.