At Global Conference: Prevail Co-Lead terms community participation as key to clinical research success

By: Eldred Wlemongar Thomas

Bartholomew Wilson
Bartholomew Wilson

The Co-Lead on Social Mobilization and Communications at PREVAIL, has spoken of the significance of community involvement in clinical research.

Bartholomew Wilson emphasized that community participation remains cardinal in the planning and conduct of any clinical research.

Addressing a global conference on the Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research held in Anaheim, California, the United States on Wednesday, Mr. Wilson said Social Mobilization, Community Engagement and Communication served as essential components in the success of the PREVAIL I Ebola vaccine study conducted in Liberia in 2015.

Mr. Wilson, in his presentation also noted that ethical practice must always be considered within the cultural context of the host country and that communities should be involved in making decisions that impact their communities directly or indirectly.

According to him, community-based ownership ensures genuine collaboration, respect for community structures and cultural principles.

The PREVAIL SMC CO-Lead said efforts to engage individual residents will be advanced when they feel a sense of community involvement and empowerment.

He told the global conference that communities should be involved from the onset of any clinical research that intends to impact their lives because according to him early engagement minimizes suspicion and skepticism.

He said during the conduct of the Vaccine Study, PREVAIL SMC designed a number of strategies including advocacy, Community engagement and communication and others to engage community leaders in the formal and informal sectors with the aimed at soliciting a community build-in, seeking the permission and building a sustainable collaboration.

The Prevail official said the strategies are also intended to enhance community ownership and to ensure outputs and impacts of the SMC efforts are well documented for strategic review, design/planning and implementation in line with ethical/protocol guidelines

“The outcome of these SMC interventions have helped to among other things create easy community entry, rapid change of public perception, dispelled rumors and negative beliefs, re-establishment of trust within research-specific communities and has laid the foundation for future collaboration”, Wilson pointed out.

He was also quick to observe that said intervention led to the successful enrollment of 1,500 study participants in three months as well as led to the achievement of 98 percent a high retention rate.

According to him, other faculty on the panel came from the Johns Hopkins University School Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, and the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health in the Country of Georgia.

The Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research conference is an annual forum where professionals working in the area of Research and Ethics gather to deconstruct, discuss, and debate issues affecting the world of research ethics and oversight.

This year’s conference, which took place November 14-16 in Anaheim, California, USA under the theme Advancing Ethical Research (AER), brought together more than 2,300 professionals from around the world together with over 250 faculty members including Mr. Barthalomew Wilson representing PREVAIL and Liberia in general.

Those who attended the global conference on the Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research gain important insights in the fields of research ethics and human subject protection, ethical requirements, and best practices and strategies for their implementation.

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