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Research Ethics Committees in Africa: Authors' Reply

Public Library of Science
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  • Correspondence
  • Medicine
  • Philosophy


plme-04-03-23-34.indd PLoS Medicine | 0595 Correspondence March 2007 | Volume 4 | Issue 3 | e135 | e136 Research Ethics Committees in Africa: Building Capacity Solomon Benatar In response to the case study by Kass et al. on research ethics committees (RECs) in Africa [1], the following additional information is provided about capacity building for research ethics in South Africa. South Africa has two programs funded by the Fogarty International Center: the International Research Ethics Network for Southern Africa (IRENSA; see http:⁄⁄www.irensa. org) based in Cape Town and the South African Research Ethics Training Initiative (SARETI; see http:⁄⁄ za/sareti/sareti.htm) that allies the Universities of Pretoria and KwaZulu-Natal. Each of these programs has a different focus and both are making highly valued contributions to capacity building in international research ethics in Southern Africa. The goal of the IRENSA diploma program is to develop and nourish sustainable multidisciplinary expertise in international research ethics and bioethics in southern Africa. It prepares mid-career health and allied professionals from South Africa and other developing nations in Africa to assume positions of leadership in research ethics in their home institutions. This program is unique on the African continent in focusing exclusively on training mid-career professionals (who cannot take the time or leave to undertake full-time graduate work), in three intensive two-week modules spread throughout one year, with assignments carried out at their home institutions. In four years IRENSA trained 49 mid-career professionals (17 men, 32 women, 20 white, 29 black) drawn from 20 institutions in South Africa and from 11 institutions in eight other low-income African countries. Sixteen students serve as chairs, deputy chairs, or secretaries of RECs. Students refl ect professional training in many disciplines, including science, medicin

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