Research Ethics Quality Improved In My Tenure~Odia

After successfully completing two terms in office as Chairman of the Research Ethics Committee, renowned Consultant Cardiology at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), Professor OsaretinOdia, has described his four-year experience as impactful and very satisfactory.
Professor Odia who spoke to our Correspondent in his office at the UPTH on Wednesday November 30, 2016, disclosed that the Committee raised awareness among researchers on appropriate procedures for research ethics and quality proposal writing in line with global best practices.
“At inauguration, the Committee was statutorily mandated to maintain high ethical standards in scientific investigations involving people, promote the dignity, rights and safety of the individuals so involved, review all proposals for planned investigations involving people and to ensure that the proposed study is scientifically valid and justifiable and that the benefits outweigh any risk of inconvenience or harm,” the erstwhile Chairman disclosed. He posited that the Committee went about its onerous task with vigorous advocacy and feedback channels that enriched its assignment.
“At the time we were inaugurated the idea of research ethics was new in the University. We were the pioneers in this regard and fortunately, I have had experience in research ethics at the UPTH for about 14 years. Fortunately, other members of my Committee also had similar valuable experience that we tapped to advance or work.  My Committee did quite a bit to raise awareness on research ethics and with all sense of modesty, the quality of proposals and compliance to ethical standards in research improved overtime as we deployed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) approved by Senate of the University to evaluate proposals,” Professor Odiadisclosed.
On the initial challenges the Committee faced in the discharge of its onerous assignment, the former Chairman lamented that it took his members more than a year to convince faculties to buy into the activities of the Committee which some of them misconstrued as intended to vet their research methodologies. 
“It took us quite some time to convince them. Very slowly, however, theybought into the idea, but not before we started vigorous advocacy visits to adverse the gains of the idea. Before we left office, all the faculties cooperated with us andI am pleased to say that we have improved tremendously today.             Some of our colleagues that have research grants from donor agencies also brought their proposals to us for evaluation in line with global best practice,” he pointed out, adding that activities of the Committee covered lecturers and postgraduate candidates, including researchers from outside the University.
He also listed funding, lack of office accommodation and space constraint for storage of materials as major challenges which he hoped the new Chairman would take up with Management of the University for enhanced service delivery. 
“As we quit office, I can say with every sense of modesty that we have laid a solid groundwork for researchethics in the University and I hope that my successor would take it to the next level to ensure that ethical standards are observed at all times. The gains are tremendous to the University as we now have a proper template for proposal writing and ethical research. The format is available to all the faculties on the UniPort website. With this standard template, it is now easy to evaluate research proposals once they are fed into the template,” the Chairman further explained to our Correspondent


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