The PAHO Ethical Revision Committee (PAHOERC), responsible for reviewing scientific research performed with human beings that receives technical or financial support from the Organization before it starts, has adopted the ProEthos platform as its electronic management system for research proposals, since July 2019. ProEthos allows researchers and members of PAHOERC to manage the submission, review and ethical approval of research protocols, including their monitoring, through a safe Web environment.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), through the Regional Bioethics Program team of the Department of Health Systems and Services (HSS), coordinated the development of the ProEthos platform in order to systematize the ethical review of research performed with human beings, thus strengthening the research ethics committees in Latin America and the Caribbean countries. ProEthos is a management platform that facilitates and improves the Committees’ review processes, in addition to including tools that allow for the improvement of ethical review and contribute to the protection of research participants.
The first version of ProEthos was developed in cooperation with the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, in Brazil, and was supported by BIREME/PAHO/WHO for promoting its maintenance and adoption in the countries, following the free and open software model. Moreover, with the support of the PAHO legal department (LEG), a license for software use was developed for the first time in PAHO, adapted from an open LGPL (GNU Lesser General Public License) recognized and used worldwide. The PAHO license maintains the platform’s main characteristics of use, distribution and free adaptations/changes, while adding specific points of non commercialization and International Organizations.
The second version of ProEthos, adopted by PAHOERC, was launched in May 2017, and displays remodeled functions in accordance with the lessons learned and users experience from the former version by the countries of the Region, such as Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru. With the technical coordination of BIREME/PAHO/WHO and maintaining the free and open software policy, this new ProEthos version modifies the technology employed with the adoption of more updated Web standards.
According to Marcie Neil, specialist in ethical review (HSS/PAHO), “in the beginning of 2019 we made an effort with BIREME to adapt the platform to PAHO’s institutional use, with PAHOERC, and to file all research protocols which have received support from PAHO for the last 10 years in English, Spanish and Portuguese. In July, we began using ProEthos for all new researchers and we have identified many benefits for the functioning of PAHOERC, with an improved work flow on behalf of the committee and its interaction with researchers, standardization of required information for reviewing research protocols and saving time in the entire process of ethical review”.
ProEthos substitutes a commercial latform used by the Organization for many years by PAHOERC. All the stored information from PAHOERC was migrated, with the support of BIREME, to a system with restricted access to the Committee, which allows consultations of historical information from reviewed protocols former to the adoption of ProEthos.
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