Project: AFRica Ethics Excellence NETwork

Acronym AFREENET (Reference Number: CSA2016ERC-1422)
Duration 01/03/2018 - 28/02/2021
Project Topic National Ethics Committees (NECs) are in charge of overseeing the ethical development of clinical trials, biomedical research and innovations in human health. However, NECs in Africa are still facing various challenges in the accomplishment of their missions. Among them, NECs located in the West-African French speaking area are reporting an urgent need for networking and coordinating their effort. AFREENET (AFRica Ethics Excellence NETwork) aims to propose a range of activities to reinforce the capacities of three NECs, respectively in Ivory Coast, Guinee and Benin, individually and as a whole. AFREENET started in March 2018, and proposes a 3-year common and collaborative programme that will be implemented as follows, under the coordination of Institut Pasteur: • At the heart of its mission, the aim of the project is to strengthen the evaluation capacity of NECs, based on their existing practices, through the reinforcement of operational procedures, working methods and day-to-day functioning of the committees. The preparation of Ethics Committees to the potential occurrence of outbreaks will be specifically addressed through an outbreak preparation plan built up on lessons learnt from the Ebola crisis. • A comprehensive training programme is defined to respond to immediate and long-term needs from basic ethics to specific targeted issues identified as priorities with regards to the fast evolving context of biomedical research. Training capacities will be reinforced on a long-term based strategy with the establishment of new mechanisms to ensure and update new members’ training, and train a pool of ethics trainers. • Based on AFREENET NEC's experiences, a range of actions will take place to share and identify valuable experiences and practices, to strengthen the global ethics oversight. Monitoring activities, regulatory issues and sensitisation among research institutes will permit to increase the visibility and recognition of NECs as key actors of a responsible ethics research framework at the national level. During the first year of the project, Partners were involved in the reinforcement of the logistics and material environment of National Ethics Committees. The purpose of this action was to facilitate the daily work environment surrounding the ethics evaluation conducted by Ethics Committee. This was also the opportunity to reinforce the administrative support of National Ethics Committees, which is crucial to ensure their functionality. The role of assistants is central in this organisation to alleviate the NECs’ Presidents workload and allow them to focus on their core responsibility. The first training session took place in each country, and was focused on “The evaluation of research protocols by the NECs: global approach and in-depth questions”. Over three and a half days, ethics committee members attended the training and shared their experience, on various topics such as the analysis of international ethical standards and their application, the role and independence of ethics committees, the protection of participants and the evaluation of benefits and risks, etc. The training was specifically designed for ethics committee members, using practical exercises and developing specific methodologies for protocol evaluation. This training was the first of a wider training programme. The second training session will focus on “the evaluation of Clinical trials by Ethics Committees" during 2019. AFREENET outcomes and results from the different WP tasks will be promoted widely, as the basis of an exchange platform and an Excellence Network between NECs. Results shall be valuably shared with a wide range of stakeholders, among which other NECs, research teams, research institutes, international agencies and regulators. Creating synergies with other ethics initiatives during the project will be a core priority and will increase the impact of the project. The first newsletter was issued during the first year of the project and published on the Partner’s website. More information: CNERS of Guinée: CNERS of Benin: Institut Pasteur Paris :
Network EDCTP2
Call Ethics and regulatory capacities 2016

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Institut Pasteur Coordinator France
2 Comité National d'Ethique pour la Recherche en Santé de Guinée Partner Guinea, Republic of
3 Ministère de la Santé - Bénin Partner Benin
4 Ministère de la Santé et de l’Hygiène Publique - Cote D'Ivoire Partner Côte d'Ivoire