The Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) studies have been advised to prudently resume recruitment and enrolment of study participants and all components of study conduct. Research activities were affected by the national lockdown that has since been relaxed but remains in effect with movement restricted across zones. BHP Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Joseph Makhema notified the Study Coordinators and all staff members in an email communication on Friday, June 26, 2020.
Dr Makhema said despite the ongoing pandemic, management have carefully assessed the situation and concluded that each BHP study can now cautiously resume recruitment, enrollment and undertake study conduct but should ensure that all activities are consistent with Standard Protocols and Guidelines for COVID-19 mitigation.
“ The primary determination should be based on ensuring Staff and Participant safety during all study specific procedures,” he emphasized.
The CEO noted that each study should ensure that they have developed a COVID-19 plan that is aligned to the BHP COVID Guidelines and the Study specific/Network Guidelines for resumption of activities.
He highlighted some specific areas that should inform the decision to resume study conduct including; Maintenance of Study objectives and compliance, IRB approvals for any modification in processes in relation to COVID-19, Risk assessment for on site visits, Full adherence to COVID-19 safety and use of PPE, Development and adjustments of appropriate COVID-19 Work flows, Staff training and orientation as well as addressing concerns of participant transport for on site visits.
“I trust that each study shall work with the PI (Principal Investigator), Coordinator, Site staff, BHP regulatory and Administration to facilitate gradual but safe transition to as near normal operations under COVID-19 as possible,” said Dr Makhema.
He took the opportunity to thank all the BHP staff and PI’s for their understanding and support as they collectively continue to fight COVID-19.