Medical personnel from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone with their international partners have begun sharing views on clinical trials of vaccines that began about a year ago for the deadly Ebola disease.
The review workshop that began on August 15, at a resort in Monrovia opened the corridor for the medical experts to share experiences on lessons learnt during the Ebola crisis and systems going forward to prevent a future outbreak.
The workshop was characterized by presentations and panel discussion on topics by health ministers, public health consultants and other medical personnel can to give partners clear insight with regard to the clinical trials and methods of preventing recurrence of the virus.
The first panel discussion considered national capacity to respond to the outbreak, key challenges and lessons learnt during the Ebola crisis.
It discussed the process by which research proposals were prioritized, how the numerous and varied institutional pressures influenced decision-making and priorities, and how to facilitate the incorporation of clinical trials in the public health and care response during future emergency infectious disease events.
The second panel discussion took into consideration perspectives from the research and training community.
Speakers discussed lessons learnt from the international research partnerships during the Ebola outbreak and how medical personnel and health authorities would apply those lessons to future research.
It also allowed them to examine the research capacity acquired by the national researchers, discuss the process by which research proposals for therapeutic and vaccine candidates were prioritized for clinical trials and how the process improved, and challenges with designing and implementing scientifically and ethically robust vaccine and therapeutic trials during the outbreak, and explore new ideas and innovative approaches for accelerating future clinical trials in emergency contexts.
Dr. Mandy Kader Konde, Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Health of the University of Conakry and Chairman on Guinea Ebola Research Commission, said in his presentation that need for partnership is quite significant in the research process.
He said Guinea was alone tackling the outbreak, but in the process of the research Liberia and Sierra Leone are collaborating with his country.
He recommended that people in the region should be exposed to Science and vaccines to have the capacity to contain outbreaks and protect the population.
Dr. Mohammed Samai, head of the Sierra Leone-based PI STRIVE vaccine study and Acting Provost of that country’s College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, said lessons learnt during the crisis were both negative and positive.
He said there was an unprecedented collaboration between Sierra Leone and partners during the outbreak, which he said was one positive aspect of the lessons learnt.
He added that the interactions between Sierra Leone and its partners yielded the needed results in fighting the virus.
Dr. Samai said there was much discussion among the scientific community in Sierra Leone, while preparing for the research, about which institution that will conduct it; whether the university or Ministry of Health.
Dr. Stephen B. Kennedy, head of the Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia (PREVAIL), said in their approach to conducting the research they consulted civil society organizations, interacted with the media and council of elders, the Ministry of Justice, the Legislature and legal practitioners.
He said from the discussions and interactions, they were able to succeed in the research and clinical trials.
Abdoul Habib Beavogui, Director for Guinea’s National Center for Training and Research in Rural Health, also made a presentation.
For Bartholomew Wilson of Social Mobilization, Communication and Community Engagement of Prevail, he alluded that they received cooperation from Liberians beyond their expectations.
Considering the doubts and cultural practices that arose during the outbreak, Mr. Wilson said they did not expect people to respond to them the way they did.
The workshop ended Tuesday, August 16 with the three countries resolving to work collaboratively by exchanging information on research, including reports from civil society groups in their respective countries as well as be responsive in media reports on future issues that surround infectious diseases to be able to jointly work, along with international partners to come up with informed results to be ahead of any future outbreak.