SNECFA Project implementation in Francophone West and Central Africa

The project ‘Strengthening National Ethics Committees in West and Central Francophone Africa (SNECFA)’ is an EDCTP2-funded project that seeks to strengthen the capacity of four National Ethics Committees in Francophone West and Central Africa, namely Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Niger, with a special focus on drafting standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the review of research protocols during routine and emergency health situations. The SNECFA project is nested within the Cameroon Bioethics Initiative (CAMBIN). CAMBIN is a non-profit, non-governmental, non-political, non-discriminatory, multidisciplinary organisation with headquarters in Yaoundé, Cameroon. CAMBIN has an Ethics Review and Consultancy Committee (ERCC), which not only reviews research protocols, but offers consultancy services for biomedical research and ethical review of research.

The specific objectives of the SNECFA project are as follows: To strengthen the capacity of four NECs in Francophone Africa by providing customised training programmes tailored to the needs of each country and support for registration or renewal of their Federal Wide Assurance (FWA) numbers; to support four national ethics committees (NECs) in writing and revising SOPs for the review of research protocols during routine and emergency situations; to develop or revise TRREE ( national supplements for the four countries; to disseminate the SOPs and TRREE national supplements through proactive communication programmes; and to facilitate knowledge sharing and exchange between NECs in the region, with particular inclusion of the NECs of Guinea and/or Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that have unique experiences to share related to protocol review during the 2014  Ebola outbreak. The TRREE project was funded under the first EDCTP programme.

Four Capacity Strengthening Workshops and Discussions on Health Research Ethics were organised with members from the four NECs:

  1. National Ethics Committee of Cameroon (CNERSH) – 25-27 August 2021
  2. National Ethics Committee of Chad (CNBT) – 20-22 October 2021
  3. National Ethics Committee of Mali (CNESS) – 29 November to 1 December 2021
  4. National Ethics Committee of Niger (CNERS) – 23-25 March 2022.

Discussions and training during these four workshops centred around three main themes: Health Research Ethics; Ethics Evaluation, Public Health Emergencies and Vulnerability; and Enhancing the Visibility of National Ethics Committees.

The workshops also brought together National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs), researchers, scientific bodies, ethics institutions, students and other stakeholders in the health sector.

To follow the activities of the SNECFA project, visit

Standard Operating Procedures Workshops

In order to support the National Ethics Committees of Chad, Niger and Mali in writing or revising their SOPs for the review of research protocols during routine and emergency health situations, SOP workshops were organised. On the first day of the two-day workshops in each of the above-mentioned countries, discussions centred around the importance of SOPs in the proper functioning of an ethics committee, WHO’s guidelines on Standard Operating Procedures, and on CAMBIN’s SOPs, which were revised in February 2021, following WHO’s guidelines on SOPs. The second day was committed to working sessions where members from the NECs were divided into two groups to examine and develop SOPs that are tailored to their legal, political, and socio-cultural values, from the prototype SOPs CAMBIN had proposed to guide them in their discussions. Because of the technicality of this exercise, we asked NECs to select 10 key members who were apt to make important inputs in the document and to invite some experts who are not necessarily members of the NEC, but who could contribute to the elaboration/revision of the SOPs. In Niger, there were 20 participants, in Chad, 15 participants, and in Mali, 20 participants. The SOPs workshop for the National Ethics Committee of Cameroon is planned to take place in the months ahead.