Ethics & Engagement across the Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programmes



Over the last three months, my main focus had been to get the protocol approved by College of medicine Research and Ethics Committee (COMREC) but also to ensure that all preparatory work is completed. Although the protocol hasn't been approved yet, a lot has been achieved especially in trying to prepare for data collection. I have recruited a Research Assistant (RA) who will help in data collection, the position is on a fixed term of 3 months ( May to July 2013). My original plan was to start data collection by 1st May, but this has not been possible because COMREC has delayed in approving the protocol, this has affected not only me but almost everyone who submitted their protocol during the same period as me. I have now tentatively planned to start data collection at the beginning of the month of June, meanwhile I have organized a protocol training for my RA which will be conducted this coming Sunday, the 19th of May. Otherwise we are ready to start data collection as soon as we receive the much need protocol approval certificate from COMREC!!! 

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Comment by Dina Rippon on May 20, 2013 at 11:50

Congratulations on all the hard work you've already done Rodrick! It's a shame about the delay in approving your protocol, although that happens so often these days. I imagine COMREC simply has a very long backlog of proposals they're working their way through. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you receive the approval soon, and do let us know!

Comment by Mphatso Mwapasa on May 20, 2013 at 12:22

Well done Rodrick!

Comment by Francis Kombe on May 22, 2013 at 8:07

Hi Rodrick,

Another way to utilize your time well is to start engaging with your key stakeholders such as the ministry of health who need to be aware about this activity before it starts. These can be handy in identifying potential challenges which you must take into account in your planning. Congratulations and good luck with the review.

Much regards

Francis Kombe

Comment by Rodrick Sambakunsi on May 22, 2013 at 9:24

Habari Yako Francis,

You are very right, I think I need to use this time wisely and one way is to do what you are suggesting, I have already met some of them but I will have to also meet those on the grassroots, you know people like HSAs. It a requirement here that before you send your protocol for ethics approval the District Health Officer has to confirm that they know about the research and they should also issue a support letter which you then send together with your protocol for ethics approval.

It was nice to hear from you Francis, are you putting on your Vietnamese hat?



Comment by Michael Parker on May 23, 2013 at 18:45

Hi Rodrick. I agree with everyone else. This is a really interesting and important project. It was great to see you in Blantyre earlier this week and thanks so much for taking me to meet some of the counsellors and nurses and community leaders involved in this work. It was fascinating to hear them talking about their work. Hearing about their experiences of counselling highlighted for me just how important your project on the sharing of information about self-testing is. I am really looking forward to hearing more about it. One of the things that struck me as an 'ethicist' was the potential for some interesting questions you might want to ask them about the ethical issues that might arise in their work. I can imagine as counsellors and nurses that they must sometimes encounter some very difficult ethical issues. For example, what do they do when they see someone who is particularly vulnerable - who they feel needs support - but who leaves without asking for help? Do they feel a sense of responsibility to follow people up, or do they respect the person's right not to be contacted etc etc. Best wishes  Mike

Comment by Dorcas Kamuya on June 4, 2013 at 15:18

Hi Rodrick,

Great work and really looking forward to hearing more about it at the summer school. I know it can be particularly frustrating when there are delays in protocol approval, but the good thing is that you could use the time to do other things, e.g.carefully go through your plans you had developed, re-check the tools, informed consents, SOPs, train RAs and other staff/people who maybe involved in work, go over some courses that maybe helpful - e.g. data analysis packages, ethics courses etc and prepare for the take-off once approval comes through. Has the protocol now been approved?

Best Wishes,


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