How does the ethical review process work in Malta and which are the designated ethics committees?
Until recently there was only 1 committee that dealt with ethical review of research in Malta, based in the Medical School of St Luke’s Hospital. Another committee has now been established at the Institute of Health Care to review research of their students and a further REC at university level. Approval of research projects by these committees is not compulsory, although there is an increasing awareness of the need for ethical review. The University Guidelines state what research involving humans is required by them to have ethical approval to proceed and also the sanctions it would apply if this was not followed.
There is also a Bioethics Consultative Committee appointed by the Ministry of Health. They produce opinions on ethical issues, publish articles, provide seminars and inform the public.
The Data Protection Commissioner has recently asked the University of Malta to see that all research in Malta is undertaken in accordance with the data protection laws. As a result the University has set up yet another REC, which is still in its infancy, to start doing this work.