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Accepted Paper:

Assessment of the operational characteristics of Research Ethics Committees in Ghana  
Samuel Asiedu Owusu (University of Cape Coast) Lisa Kearns (NYU Grossman School of Medicine) Barbara Redman (New York University) Grace Addison (University of Ghana)

Paper short abstract:

This study assessed the operational characteristics of 50% RECs in Ghana. Bioethicists were underrepresented on the RECs aside limited funding and absence of a national ethics commission as the major challenges of the RECs. The RECs assessed could be described as being theoretically functional.

Paper long abstract:


Eighteen Research Ethics Committees (RECs) were operational in Ghana as at 2020. This study was conducted to assess the operational characteristics of the RECs to determine their preparedness to advance the conduct of ethical research.


The census approach was adopted where all the Chairpersons or Administrators of the 18 RECs were contacted out of which nine (9) declined to participate. The quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics while the qualitative data was analyzed based on the principle of grounded theory.


Two-thirds of the RECs were universities or research-based institutions. The majority of the RECs (87.5%) had been operational for more than 5 years with half of them indicating that the strategic focus of their institutions led to their establishment. The RECs were composed of members with varied backgrounds but bioethicists were generally underrepresented on the RECs. Six (75.0%) of the RECs indicated that they have organised capacity-building activities for their members but fewer of these focused on researchers and community members. Limited access to adequate funding, absence of a national research ethics commission were some predominant challenges reported by the RECs.


In line with the mandate of RECs and other indicators for assessing the efficiency of RECs, those in Ghana assessed could be described as being theoretically functional. They have been receiving, reviewing and approving research protocols in addition to organising capacity-building activities for their members. The absence of a national ethics authority in Ghana leaves the RECs largely unregulated at the national level.

Panel Poli37
Pasts and futures of research ethics in the African contexts
  Session 1 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -