Monday, April 13, 2009

Ethics Review for Medical Research

It was brought to my attention yesterday that it is becoming increasingly difficult for international researchers to conduct medical or health research in Mongolia due to regulations introduced by the Ministry of Health which pulls the ethical review process for international projects away from the medical universities and hospitals, as it is handled for local researchers, and brings it within the purview of the ministry itself. I wonder if there are other researchers out there who have experienced difficultly in receiving the necessary permissions to conduct medical or health research in Mongolia, and whether this difficulty has been viewed as a necessary and understandable process or quite the opposite?

I am thinking here of international researchers who have received clearance from ethical review boards at reputable international universities or medical institutions, so that one might expect that the review process in Mongolia would mostly constitute an examination of the ethical practicality of conducting the research in the Mongolian context as opposed to a from scratch review of the entire proposal adding time and bureaucratic hurdles to the entire process. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this sort of approach, but at least for my money I am inclined to take Harvard Medical School's word for it that a proposed project is ethically sound, and spend the time saved ensuring that projects are executed in a manner befitting the context.

I am curious if the ministry's approach is the from scratch approach and whether it is effective. Or, is it something altogether different? Let me know if you have stories to share.

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