Health ministry to increase clinical trials

The Ministry of Health, through Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), is committed to expand the scope of evidence-based healthcare by conducting more clinical trials, officials have said.

The ministry Wednesday held a symposium to review the current development in terms clinical research to promote evidence based healthcare.

Clarisse Musanabaganwa, the director of medical research at RBC, said they want to expand the scope of research in health by undertaking many clinical trials.

“Clinical trials are done to test new drugs or new medical interventions in terms of certifying and applying them to prevent various diseases, to put out new programmes and strategies for prevention and treatment,” she said.

As of now, 67 clinical trials have been conducted in Rwanda in partnership with various institutions like pharmaceutical firms to see if their products or interventions can be used to preserve people’s lives, she said.

“Before certifying such products or new medical interventions, many phases have to be passed through. If it’s a drug, researchers have to prove the level of its toxicity, side effects, how it contributes to limit the disease and other information about it. It takes long to ascertain whether the product under trial can bring the intended impact in medical sector,” she said.

The trials are conducted on people with the concerned diseases, basing on the regulations and standards set out by international regulatory bodies, she said.

Besides, in Rwanda there is the national ethics committee which is in charge of preserving rights of people taken as samples, she said.

“We want to expand research and clinical trials. We need infrastructure and adequate equipment to enhance medical inventions in the country.”

Sabin Nzanzimana, the Head of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and Hepatitis prevention Division at RBC, said that in terms of HIV, many researches have been conducted.

In Rwanda, he said, there has been the trial of HIV vaccine, through San Francisco projects in partnership with other international research institutions.

Normally, the trial needs a small group of 50 to 100 people to see if the interventions can bring the best results, he said.

He said that even as the vaccine against HIV is not yet there, research is still ongoing in hope of a breakthrough.

“There is also another research on a new drug which was conducted two years ago and it is being used now,” he said.

He also highlighted prepex – the non-surgical circumcision method – which came out of a partnership between some Rwandans and Israeli researchers who invented that tool.

Rwanda was the first country to try prepex, he said.

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