New Appointment for Rebecca Project for Human Rights
Kwame Fosu, the Rebecca Project for Human Rights Counsel since 2003, has been appointed Director of International Affairs and Programs.
This appointment comes at a critical time when illegal Human Subject research on vulnerable populations in Africa, especially women and children is a growing problem. This issue has been confronted head on in Nigeria vs. Pfizer (2010) where, at the urging of the Obama Administration, the US Supreme Court rejected Pfizer's appeal after a US Appeals Court ruling found that Pfizer violated international laws prohibiting nonconsensual research thereby allowing Nigerians the right to seek relief for damages in US courts. Nigeria has since filed criminal charges against Pfizer's researchers. In Nigeria vs. Pfizer, researchers injected children with an antibiotic called Trovan, during a meningitis outbreak, without providing families with Informed Consent Forms that fully disclosed the side effects. In Ghana, Human Subject experiments have also been conducted in Navrongo by Dr James Phillips currently of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and other preeminent researchers from the Population Council. Unlike the United States and Europe most African countries lack an Office of Research Integrity (http://ori.hhs.gov/), and ethical research Institutional Review Boards lack independence or are controlled by corrupt government officials as is the case of Ghana.
The immediate goals of the Rebecca Project are to: 1) Bring this issue to the attention of Judiciary and Foreign Affairs (Africa & Global Health) Committees in Congress for hearings where victims of nonconsensual Human Subject research, researchers from academic institutions or drug companies, and funders will testify to bring this issue directly to public's attention. 2) Congress will compel Health Ministers and Health Directors from Africa who receive funding from the U.S. government and USAID to testify and attest that policies are in place to protect Whistleblowers and to include all International Human Subject Laws and Principles of the Nuremberg Code, Belmont Report and Helsinki Declaration. 3) Develop policy for an "Africa Ethical Research Act" where government officials and researchers who are identified as conducting illegal Human Subject research experiments without Informed Consent Forms, shall be prosecuted in a Special International Court for crimes against humanity for violating international research laws and international humane principles, as should have been the case in Nigeria v. Pfizer. 4) Support Public Health Advocates and Whistleblowers in their efforts to codify internationally accepted ethical research laws and expose illegal research activity. 5) Work with international and local law enforcement to provide evidence and witnesses of illegal research to prosecute researchers. 6) Form a coalition with Advocates, concerned Foundations and Public Health Academic Institutions to monitor grantees and employees conducting research in Africa.
Kwame Fosu has extensive experience working with high level government officials in the United States and officials from Africa and will seek a comprehensive policy solution to this growing epidemic. He can be reached at 202-265-3906 or 202-406-0911. Malika Saada Saar and Kwame Fosu will discuss this issue extensively with funders at this year's Clinton Global Initiative conference from September 20-23 in New York.
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