Government through the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) has officially unveiled the National Research Information management system (NRIMS) in an effort to improve Uganda’s competitiveness as a place to conduct research.
The platform will help in coordinating and bringing together the 25 Research Ethics Committee (REC) that are under the Forum for Research Ethics Chairpersons (FRECU) that was formed by UNCST as a platform to discuss ethical issues and make recommendations on necessary policy changes.
Speaking at the Forum’s 31th meeting held on Monday l, the Executive Secretary UNCST said the platform will provide efficient reviews of research protocols and provide researcher with an interface with all the accredited RECs and UNCST in data capture, data management, data validation, quality control and overall regulatory compliance to research management processes. The platform will also enable management of research records and interacts with investigators more efficiently.
“Because of the contributions of the RECs, there has been an annual increase of 9.3% in research registered at UNCST with up to 700 research protocols registered annually. I want to thank the Forum’s chairpersons and the administrators for their dedicated efforts towards facilitating the research regulatory oversight process in Uganda,” he said.
As an effort to help the Committees adapt easier to the NRIMS, UNCST with support from the Scaling up of Capacity of Research Ethics Committees in Uganda (SCRECU) project provided 5 tablets, one projector, one printer, a laptop and an internet data subside to all the 25 RECs.
“We encourage all RECs to fully enroll into the NRIMS by 31th November 2020. We are currently developing a communication strategy to sensitize the research fraternity about the system. We have and will also continue to train the IT persons in the RECs on how to use this system effectively,” he added.
The Chairperson of the Forum of Research Ethnics Committees Frederick Nakwagala said that due to effects of Covid 19, there has been an increase in the cost of carrying out research and yet the funders and are not increasing the budget which has constrained research especially during this time.
“We have witnessed a number of drop outs from these research committees by researchers because of the increased cost of living. For example, transport cost has doubled and yet the transport allowances remain the system. We ask government and other funders to increase budgets for research especially during and post Covid 19 era if researchers are going to continue doing their work effectively,” he said.
The other issues that were discussed during the meeting including standardisation of research fees and plagiarisms in research protocols that is undermining the quality of research in Uganda