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NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA) – A senior UNESCO official has criticized multi-national pharmaceutical firms which conduct clinical trials in developing countries without adequately informing their volunteers of the possible risks involved in such researches.
UNESCO’s assistant director general in charge of Social and Human Sciences, Dr. Pierre Sane observed that due to lack of ethical standards in scientific researches, such pharmaceutical companies did not bother to obtain informed consent from volunteers participating in their trials.
Dr. Sane spoke recently at Kenya’s Egerton public University, near Nakuru town, 105 miles west of Nairobi where he inaugurated a Bio-ethics center. He lamented that thousands of people in Africa were being enticed by money and other goodies to participate in scientific trials without fully understanding their possible risks.
The Bio-ethics center, said to be the first in the third world, aims to ensure that an ethical framework is maintained to protect society from advances in Science and Technology, the UNESCO official disclosed. The center is also mandated to promote research in bio-ethics, create a platform for collaboration, networking and information sharing.
UNESCO, he said, was committed to ensuring the monitoring and analysis of the impact of scientific and technological innovations on human rights through the strengthening of its actions on the ethics of science and technology.
The UNESCO official, who was in Kenya to attend the 14th Session of the International Bio-ethics Committee meeting in Nairobi, also revealed that the meeting would work on a draft policy on environmental ethics and the growing challenge of toxic waste in Africa.
Kenya, Dr. Sane said, had sought the establishment of a resource center in Africa to facilitate exchanges between scholars, policy makers, civil society and other stakeholders on ethical, legal and social concerns stemming from advances in science.