WACCBIP Holds First Bioethics Workshop
As part of the Wellcome Trust DELTAS programme, WACCBIP has held a week long Bioethics training workshop for postdoctoral fellows and stakeholders from some sister universities in Ghana. The five-day workshop started on November 28th to December 2nd, 2016. This workshop was taught by Prof. Mahamadou Diakite, Professor of Immunogenetics at the University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako, Mali, Dr. Paulina Tindana, a Bioethicist from the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC), and Dr. Angeliki Kerasidou, a researcher in Global Health Ethics and the Ethics Coordinator for the Malaria Genomics Epidemiology Network (MalariaGEN) at the Ethox Centre, Oxford University.
The opening ceremony of the workshop was attended by faculty members, postdoctoral fellows under the Wellcome Trust DELTAS programme and other professionals in the sciences across the Sub-Region namely Ghana, Mali, The Gambia, Nigeria and Cameroon. This workshop was aimed at building the capacity of participants on responsible conduct of scientific research, with emphasis on key ethical issues related to genomics research in Africa. Some topics discussed included the introduction of research ethics, ethical issues in genomic research, community engagement, data sharing, sample export and shipping requirements, and privacy and confidentiality.
Prof. Gordon Awandare, the Director of WACCBIP warmly welcomed all participants and threw more light on the importance of the workshop. He emphasized the fact that the workshop is aimed at exploring contemporary and significant topics in bioethics. He said, “WACCBIP is keen on contributing to sound research through capacity building aimed at addressing pertinent health issues in the West Africa sub-region”.He further encouraged participants to fully engage with the resource persons and with each other to ensure they derive the maximum benefit from the workshop.
A keynote presentation on Blood Borne Pathogens and laboratory safety was delivered by Prof. Mahamadou Diakite. He made an observation about the increasing number of people affected by blood borne pathogens such as hepatitis B virus (HBV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) worldwide. He also covered topics on Biosafety including, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Animal Biosafety Levels, Parasites and Biosafety and Post-Exposure Management in the laboratory.
Dr. Paulina Tindana, also gave an introductory presentation on Ethical issues pertaining to genetics research in Africa. She described genomics and genetics and their associated differences, influences of diseases and how they affect human behaviour. She further identified some challenges in trying to explain human genomes and cited the example of the difficulty involved in the translation of scientific terms into our local languages. She was however optimistic that improved community engagement will help to address such issues.
Dr Angeliki Kerasidou, another lead facilitator for the workshop, took participants through an introduction to Research Ethics. She explained ethics as a discipline that employs methods and logic to answer research questions. She also used the philosophical view of research to explain how researchers ought to behave in the context of biomedical research.
Participants at the workshop were engaged in breakout sessions where they brainstormed on some of the topics discussed. There were also question and answer sessions where pertinent questions and key contributions were made.
Some participants shared their experience on the workshop and certificates of participation were presented to participants at the end of the workshop.