BACKGROUND: Ethics review preparedness is a major foundation for national effective response to public health emergencies, because it promotes pertinent research and enhances the protection of research participants and communities. In low-income countries, it can also promote equitable research partnership. However, most relevant literature is in English and not easily accessible for the members of research ethics committees in French-speaking African countries.
METHODS: A training module in French, addressing the issue of research ethics review during outbreaks and other public health emergencies, was designed based on a non-systematic literature review, and in order to be complementary to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) national guidelines for ethics review. The module was administered to 42 members of the five ethics committees in DRC that expressed their interest for the training.
RESULT: This training, co-designed with local stakeholders, in the local working language and taking into account local circumstances and regulation, provided participants with up-to-date insights of research ethics (and research ethics preparedness) in public health emergencies. It resulted in rich reflection and knowledge-sharing on good practices across the ethics committees.
CONCLUSION: As most participating ethics committees do not have yet explicit standard operating procedures for expedited review of protocols submitted in emergency situations, this would be a next important step to facilitate emergency reviews in the most efficient way.