Research Ethics Committees in Africa: Authors' Reply
Citation: Kass NE, Hyder AA, Ajuwon A, Appiah-Poku J, Barsdorf N, Elsayed DE, et al. (2007) Research Ethics Committees in Africa: Authors' Reply. PLoS Med 4(3): e136. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040136
Published: March 27, 2007
Copyright: © 2007 Kass et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this article.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
We thank Dr. Benatar  for pointing out that South Africa has two Fogarty-funded bioethics training programs: one that focuses primarily on providing short-term training to mid-career professionals from Southern Africa; and another that provides modular training in research ethics to professionals from the African continent. In addition, there are now several other Fogarty-funded training programs that either target African professionals exclusively or include African professionals, among others, in their programs (see http://www.fic.nih.gov/programs/training_grants/bioethics/index.htm). All of these programs share the goal of increasing professional capacity in bioethics and research ethics on the African continent.
Our own paper demonstrated that training even a small number of individuals can make a difference in changing policy and practice regarding research ethics in several institutions; that so many training efforts are now ongoing is a major step forward. Again, having more people teaching and discussing research ethics and starting and staffing research ethics committees will never itself guarantee that research with humans is more ethical, but it seems to be a critical first step. Capacity development for Africa still remains a challenge and worthy of increasing investments in global health.
- 1. Benatar S (2007) Research ethics committees in Africa: Building capacity. PLoS Med 4: e135. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040135.