Ghana: Ebola Trials will not be compromised- Clinical researches

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it would not be complacent on ethics and safety of Ghanaians in the Ebola clinical trials despite the urgency of the exercise.

Country Representative Dr Magda Rabalo said Ghana has been at the forefront of many clinical trials, an opportunity she said most developing countries do not have.

Speaking at an Ebola forum in Accra, she welcomed the debate on the trials saying it was very healthy.

Ghana has suspended a trial for an Ebola vaccine after complaints that people are being used as “guinea pigs” in a country currently free of the deadly disease.

Ghana has agreed to join other countries in hosting trials to test the safety and effects of two experimental vaccines against a virus that has killed more than 11,150 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

It had started Phase 1 safety tests on one vaccine which has been trialed in US, UK, Switzerland, Germany, Mali and Gabon in the Volta Region, giving volunteers a mobile phone and GH₵ 200 per visit.

But faced with mounting opposition to the trial, Health Minister Alex Segbefia decided to suspend the exercise.

Clinical investigators say safety and ethics would never be compromised but insist that the current effort in Ghana to contribute towards the development of an effective vaccine to protect populations in future outbreaks of the disease is the right thing to do.

Professor Fred Binka, Vice Chancellor of the Ho University of Health and Allied Sciences took participants through the clinical trials process and noted that each of the various stages has been duly adhered to.

Dr Kwaku Opoku Asante, Principal Investigator and Head of the Kintampo Health Research Centre explained that Hohoe was selected because the Oncho centre there was started there in 1986 by the WHO.

He noted that for nearly 30 years now more than 30 clinical trials including Phases I, II and III of Oncho, malaria drugs and others have been conducted according to internationally recognised standards at the centre.

The Kintampo Health Research Centre was also chosen because in the last decade it has undertook vaccines trials in meningitis and malaria and is well equipped clinical trial facility of international standard with qualified biomedical scientists and clinicians for vaccine studies.

Mrs Delese Darko, Acting Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Safety Mointoring and clinical Department said the Food and Drugs Authority has not compromised any of the procedures required in the trial, adding that the authority is recognised in Africa as a centre of excellence.

On the issue of GH₵ 200 compensation, the ethics committee of trials said such moneys should not be too much or too little to manipulate people to volunteer.

It also noted that WHO does not define how much participant should be paid and that compensations differ from country to country.

Ghana and Kenya needs to provide72 participants for the trials. Kenya has already testing 60 volunteers waiting for Ghana to provide the additional 12. GNA

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