Uganda Research Regulators Forum

Uganda inaugurates research regulators' forum to strengthen compliance

How can we enhance research compliance? In Uganda, it may be through regular stakeholder engagement to review current and upcoming regulations governing science and research, and streamlining the roles of research regulators.

These observations were made at the inaugural Uganda Research Regulators Forum held in Kampala in June 2023. 

Organized by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (UNCST), and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the forum brought together stakeholders in the science and technology sector including regulators, researchers, academia, government ministries, departments and agencies. 

Martin Ongol, executive secretary of UNCST, said 

‘the forum will explore challenges and opportunities for safe conduct of research especially in the livestock sector.’ 

He added that deliberations from this workshop will 

‘complement and strengthen initiatives to update relevant institutional policies and strengthen regulatory oversight, led by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology.’ 

He called for the holding of these stakeholder forums regularly. 

The two-day event discussed the research regulatory framework in Uganda with the aim of fostering collaboration between researchers and regulators and aligning research with the framework. The adoption of research findings into policy and practice; data storage and sharing (especially genomic data), and community engagement were identified as critical to successful and compliant scientific research practice. 

Other key topics discussed included how to raise public awareness of existing laws and research requirements. Currently, new laws and regulations are announced through ‘The Uganda Gazette’, a weekly government publication that contains notices, government declarations and supplements, bills, statutes, statutory instruments and legal notices. While the publication is open to the public, few people have access to it. Regular stakeholder engagement is therefore one way of promoting information flow and awareness.  

Participants during the Uganda Reseach Regulators' meeting in Kampala
Participants during the Uganda Reseach Regulators' Forum in Kampala

Some of the regulations under review in the country include one on data storage and transfer by the National Information and Technology Authority; and the national agricultural inputs and food authority bill 2023 under which the enactment of the National Human Drug Authority and the National Veterinary Drug Authority bills have been proposed. Currently, both human and veterinary drugs in Uganda are regulated by the National Drug Authority. Separation of the two components is expected to result in establishment of the Food, Animal and Plant Health Authority (FAPHA) to address the quality, safety and efficacy of veterinary drugs and agricultural chemicals in the market.  

Participants called on UNCST to publish a repository of past, present and proposed research in the country to avoid duplication and improve resource use, including of stored samples. The repository will address fatigue in research communities by providing information on research sites and promote collaboration by linking individuals and institutions conducting research in similar areas. 

Brenda Nakazibwe, pathogen economy team leader at the Science, Technology and Innovation Secretariat in the Office of the President, reiterated the government’s commitment to support science, technology and innovation. She encouraged innovators to patent their products to safeguard their interests and benefits from their innovations. 

A panel discussion during the Uganda Research Regulators' forum 

ILRI research in Uganda and how it contributes to the country’s research and development agenda was presented at the forum. Ben Lukuyu, ILRI Uganda country representative said, 

“ILRI is keen on building capacity in the research community and has supported the development of National Guidelines for the Use of Animals in Research Teaching 2021’. 

He noted that this not only contributes to a pool of the much-needed human resources but ensures that research conducted is aligned with the country’s development agenda. 

Ephy Khaemba, manager research compliance and environment health and safety at ILRI said, 

‘the institute is working with the various lead agencies, coordinated by the UNCST, to ensure ILRI and partners research in the country is compliant with the new regulations.’ 

She noted that ILRI shares research findings with the relevant authorities including the MAAIF before they are published.