National Health Ethics and Research Committee

1. PURPOSE OF NHERC

1.1. To improve the health of the Tongan people through supporting, promoting and upholding appropriate high quality health research that is consistent with Tongan people’s context, values and standards;

1.2. To protect and safeguard the dignity, rights, safety, health and well-being of all Tongan people partaking in a research study or potential research participants;

1.3. To review and provide independent comment on the ethical and possible cultural problems that may arise in any aspect of health research;

2. FUNCTIONS OF THE NHERC

Ethical Review

2.1. Provide independent, competent and timely review of the ethics of research proposals involving human participants;

2.2. To create and continually review Ethical Codes and Guidelines for personnel undertaking health-related research with human subjects and human tissue/parts involving the Ministry of Health;

2.3. To monitor all ethical aspects of health research and ensure health researchers uphold and conduct responsible and ethical research;

Health Research Policies and Processes

2.4. The initiation and support for health research;

2.5. Development of a national research application form (R1);

2.6. Development, endorsement and enforcement of the Ministry of Health ‘Health Research policy’;

2.7. Development and enforcement of corresponding law, acts, guidelines and standards that assist, support and maintain ethical research practices;

2.8. Advising or informing the National Health Development Committee (NHDC) on health research policies and guidelines and health-related research proposals/studies;

2.9. The promotion and dissemination of health research results and the utilization of these results to the improvement of health practices and operations, health policy, and health care delivery to ultimately improve the health of the Tongan people;

2.10. Regularly review and update the Operational Guidelines and policies, if changes are required;

2.11. The NHERC submits an annual report to the NHDC by March each year;

Health Research and Ethics Development

2.12. Fostering, recruitment, education, training and retention of individuals engaged in health research in Tonga;

2.13. The encouragement of health research initiatives by soliciting research proposals and applications, particularly in areas considered by the NHERC to have a high priority;

2.14. Develop and maintain close and supportive relationships with Institutions and researchers including charitable, private or other organizations that fund and conduct health research

Current Members of the NHERC as of January 2017

1. Chairperson                                                     Dr. Lisiate ‘Ulufonua
Medical Superintendent
2. Secretary                                                        Mr. Sioape Kupu/Mr. Va'inga Tone
Health Research Officer
3. Clinical Representative                                    Dr. Leiukamea Saafi
CMO Clinical Services
4. Nursing Representative                                   Sr. Pinomi Lātu
Infection Control Nurse
5. Nursing School Representative                        Sr. Tilema Cama
Principal of the Queen Sālote School of Nursing (QSSN)
6. Dental Representative                                      Dr. ‘Amanaki Fakakovikaetau
Chief Dental Officer
7. Public Health Representative                             Dr. Reynold ‘Ofanoa
CMO Public Health
8. Health Information Representative                     Mr. Sione Hufanga
Principal Health Planning Officer
9. Community Representative                               Still Pending Appoinment
Ministry of Internal Affairs
10. Community Representative                             Mrs. Tupousilia Tonga/Ms.Fono-ki-moana Hola
Prime Minister’s Officer
11. Community Representative                              Still Pending Appointment
Ministry of Education and Training

The Two Community Representatives are pending new allocations.

Support Staff:                                                               Mrs. ‘Eu’ese Fetokai

Each member of the NHERC is chosen based on their respective specialized fields and the current job post. If a chosen member is too busy, he/she can allocate another suitable representative from their Division/Section to be a full-time member of part-time member.

NHERC Documents

Operational Guidelines

The Operational Guidelines for the NHERC was developed to help provide structure on how the functions and operations of the NHERC are carried out. Based on the document Operational Guidelines for Ethics Committees That Review Biomedical Research (2000) by the W.H.O the Guideline was contextualized to how the Ministry of Health runs and operates its Committees. Developed by the Health Research Officer in 2014 the Operational Guideline was approved by the NHDC in early 2015 and helps guide the NHERC on how to review the proposals that come through the Ministry of Health.

If you wish to access the Operational Guideline, please request a copy from the NHERC Secretary.

NHERC Annual Reports

[NHERC Annual Report 2014]

[NHERC Annual Report 2015]

[NHERC Annual Report 2016]

 

RESEARCH PROPOSALS AND STUDIES SUBMITTED
Updated on the 25th March 2017
 
            The list below comprises of all the ‘completed’ Research Proposals submitted to the NHERC for review since 2014. The Proposals are arranged in accordance to the year of submission.  To assist in understanding the table the following column headings are explained below:
 
Column Heading
Explanation
Reference
Reference Number
Title
Title of the Research Study
Investigator(s)
Principal Investigator with Local Counterpart / Local Co-Investigator (Bolded) with Supervisor (When Applicable)
Status
Current status of Research Proposal / Study
In Progress : Approved and currently running
Awaiting for Amendments: Conditional Approval given granted Amendments / Conditions are met.
Yet to be Reviewed: Submitted yet pending Review and Approval
Completed: Study completed and Final Report submitted
Terminated: Study was discontinued / terminated
Duration
Duration period for when Ethical Approval remains valid
Approval
Type of Approval Granted
Conditional Approval: Approval granted with Conditions / Amendments
Approval: Unconditional Approval
Yet to be Reviewed: Submitted yet still pending
Re-submit Application with Amendments: Application reviewed by NHERC and requested for re-submission with amendments / conditions given.
 
 
1          Research Proposals Submitted
2014
 
#
Reference
Title
Investigator(s)
Status
Duration
Approval
1
150414
Non-communicable disease-related disability research in the Pacific Islands: Tonga component
Dr. Wendy Snowden
Mr. Sione Pouliva’ati
Completed
2 Years
15.04.14 – 15.04.16
Conditional Approval
2
240414
Physical Activity among adolescents in the Vava’u Island: Tonga.
Mr. Simon Larrson (Medical Student)
Dr. Reynold ‘Ofanoa
Completed
1 Year
24.04.14 – 24.04.15
Conditional Approval
3
040614.1
Investigating the health needs of primary school children in Tonga.
Associate Professor Cameron Grant
Mrs. Fiona Langridge (PhD candidate)
Dr. Toakase Fakakovikaetau
In Progress
3 Years
04.06.14 – 04.06.17
Conditional Approval
4
040614.2
Pacific Science for Health Literacy Partnership Project
Mrs. Jacquie Bay
Dr. ‘Ofa Tukia
In Progress
3 Years
04.06.14 – 04.06.17
Conditional Approval
5
070714
What are the Normative, Perceived and Expressed Needs for Orthodontic Treatment amongst Tongan children aged 12 – 15 years old.
Nirmal Shal (Dental Student)
Dr. Susitina Piukala
Completed
1 year
7.07.14 – 07.07.15
Conditional Approval
6
300714
The Impact of Australian Sports Outreach Program in Tonga
Mr. Siosaia Langitoto
Mr. Sione Hufanga
Completed
1 year
7.07.14 – 07.07.15
Approval
7
190914
The Impact of Cataract on Poverty
Dr. Judith McCool
Ms. Julienne Faletau (Masters Candidate)
Mrs. Mele Vuki
Completed
1 year
19.09.14 – 19.09.15
Conditional Approval
8
211114.2
Assessing Tongan smokers’ responses to Television advertisements about serious harms of tobacco use
Dr. ‘Ofa Tukia
Completed
1 year
21.11.14 – 21.11.15
Conditional Approval
9
211114.1
The Process and Impact of Food Policies in Tonga
Associate Professor Colin Bell
Mrs. Elisiva Na’ati
In Progress
3 years
21.11.14 – 21.11.17
Conditional Approval
10
290115.1
Post-Mass Drug Administration Lymphatic Filariasis Transmission Assessment Survey.
Dr. Reynold ‘Ofanoa
Completed
1 year
29.01.15 – 29.01.16
Conditional Approval
11
030315
Formative Research into barriers to participation in physical activity in the Pacific
Dr. Tom Carroll
Dr. ‘Ofa Tukia
Mr. ‘Eva Mafi
Completed
1 year
03.03.15 – 03.03.16
Conditional Approval
12
290115.2
Giving Birth: The Voices of Tongan Women in Tonga and the United States
Mrs. Shelly J. Reed
Sr. ‘Ana Kavaefiafi
Mrs. Meliame Tupou
Completed
2 years
29.01.15 – 29.01.16
Conditional Approval
13
210115.1
Dentition Status and treatment needs of Down’s Syndrome individuals attending ‘Ofa Tu’i moe ‘Amanaki and ‘Alonga Residential Center’s specialized institutions in Nuku’alofa Tongatapu
Ms. Mele Likivai Foliaki (BDS 4th Dental student).
Dr. ‘Amanaki Fakakovikaetau
Completed
1 year
29.01.2015 – 29.01.2016
Conditional Approval
14
210115.2
Periodontal status and treatment needs of Down’s Syndrome individuals attending two specialized institutions in Nuku’alofa Tongatapu.
Mr. James Heimuli (BDS 4th Dental student).
Dr. ‘Amanaki Fakakovikaetau
Completed
1 year  29.01.2015 – 29.01.2016
Conditional Approval
 
2015
 
#
Reference
Title
Investigator(s)
Status
Duration
Approval
15
190315.1
The prevalence of chlamydia among pregnant women of Tonga
Dr. Louise Fonua
Dr. Veisinia Matoto
Completed
1 year
19.03.15 – 19.03.16
Approval
16
190315.2
Child Protection during emergencies and disaster risk reduction by Pacific Island Countries
Mr. Dennis Stuebing
Terminated
1 year
19.03.15 – 19.03.16
Conditional Approval / Terminated
17
100515
Prevalence and Factors contributing to Obesity among Tongan High School senior students in 2015
Ms. Litia ‘Ahoafi
Mr. Napolioni Vulakouvaki (Supervisor)
Completed
1 year
15.05.15 – 15.05.16
Conditional Approval
18
190315.3
The extent to which changes in culture and lifestyle in particular health, exercise and diet, have had an impact on Tongan Society.
Ms. Jacinta Forde
Mr. Fa’aui Taumalolo
M’aukakala
Completed
1 year
19.03.15 – 19.03.16
Conditional Approval
19
190315.4
A Qualitative study exploring Tongan nurses' perspectives of the 'Advanced Nursing Diploma in the Prevention, Detection and Management of NCD'

Ms. Kieh Christopherson Dunn

Sr. ‘Ana Kavaefiafi

Completed

1 year

19.03.15 – 19.03.16

Conditional Approval
20
190315.5
One Netball Pacific Evaluation
Dr. Emma Sherry
Ms. Salote Sisifa
In Progress
2 years
19.03.15 – 19.03.16
Conditional Approval
21
190315.6
Our Child Has Died
Dr. Toakase Fakakovikaetau
Dr. Jane Skeen
Request for Extension
1 year
19.03.15 – 19.03.16
Conditional Approval
22
130515
The Processes and Impacts of Policy Changes to Improve Unhealthy Food Environments in Tonga
Mrs. ‘Etivina Lovo
Mrs. Lady Fane Fakafanua
Ms. Sioape Kupu
Terminated
2 years
17.07.15 – 17.07.16
Conditional Approval
23
271015.1
The Tonga CardioVAscular Risk Investigation Project (The Tonga CAVARI Project). A Cardiovascular Risk Factor and Risk Marker Investigation in a Random Sample of Tongans.
Dr. Ole Nyvad
Dr. Toakase Fakakovikaetua
Dr. Sione Lātu
Dr. Loutoa Poese
Pending further Review
1 year
27.10.2015 – 27.10.2016
Conditional Approval
24
271015.2
Dengue in the Pacific, emerging public health responses – a Tongan Case Study.
Dr. Michal H. Dick
Dr. Reynold ‘Ofanoa
Terminated
1 year
27.10.2015 – 27.10.2016
Conditional Approval/Terminated
25
170815
Health Outcomes after Valve-Replacement Surgery for Rheumatic Heart Disease in Tonga.
Mrs. Linda Thomson Mangnall
Dr. Toakase Fakakovikaetau
In Progress
5 years
31.08.2015 – 31.08.2016
Conditional Approval
26
101215
Periodontal status of Diabetic patients attending Vaiola Hospital, Tongatapu
Ms. Pilimilose Moleni (BDS 4th Year student)
Dr. Ashneeta Prasad (Supervisor)
Awaiting Final Report

1 year

29.03.16 – 29.03.17

Conditional Approval
27
231115
Oral Health Status and Related Risk Factors among Rheumatic Heart Disease patients age 12-19 years old in Tongatapu.
Mr. Sione H. Tongia (BDS 4th Year student)
Dr. Temalesi King (Supervisor)
Awaiting Final Report

1 year

30.03.16 – 30.03.17

Awaiting Review
28
181115
To study the clinical effect of short spin cross match (immediate spin) and complete cross match red cells transfused to patients at Vaiola Hospital
Mr. Semisi Lenati (BPharm student)
Dr. ‘Eka Buadromo
Completed
1 year
21.12.2015 – 21.12.2016
Conditional Approval
 
2016
 
#
Reference
Title
Investigator(s)
Status
Duration
Approval
29
030316
Kids’ Cam Tonga – Assessing Tongan children’s food environment and how best to improve it
Dr. Viliami Puloka
In Progress
2.5 years
03.03.2015 – 03.09.2017
Conditional Approval
30 050216
Pacific multi-country Mapping and Behavioral study: HIV and STI risk vulnerability among Key Population.
Professor Heather Worth
 
Michelle ‘O Connor
Dr. Louise Fonua
In Progress
1 Year
16.06.16 – 16.06.17
Re-submit Application with Amendments
31
240216
Evaluation of Tonga Anti-Tobacco Mass Media Campaign
Associate Professor Philayrath Phongsavan
Mr.Sione Fifita
In Progress

1 year

08.04.16 – 08.04.17

Conditional Approval
32 060216 Factors Contributing to Teenage Pregnancies in Tonga Mrs. ‘Ana Vaka’uta Terminated - Terminated
33 260516 Hospital Staff Perception of a Collaborative Twinning Program

Professor Karen Francis

Ms. Carolyn Mornane

In Progress

1 Year

01.03.16 - 31.12.17

Approval
34 270516 Mercury Monitoring in women of child-bearing age in the Asia and the Pacific Region

Ms. Imogen Ingram

Dr. Sunia Foliaki

Rejected - Rejected
35 310516 Use of Traditional Medicinal Plants by Patients Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Vaiola Hospital, Tongatapu, Tonga Ms. Mita Vaka Completed

1 year

27.06.16 – 27.06.17

Conditional Approval
36 030616 Public Understanding of Developmental Origin of Health and Disease (DOHaD) amongst Pregnant Women and Mothers in Tonga Mr. Sioape Fe'iloakitau Kahomovailahi Kupu Awaiting Final Report

1 year

16.06.16 – 16.06.17

Approved
37 020616 National Study "The Experience and Needs of Children, Including Children With Disabilities Living in Tonga" Mrs. Gabriella ‘Ilolahia Pending further Review - Pending further Review
38 130616 Describing Best Practice Health Promotion Programs in the Pacific A/Professor Colin Bell In Progree

2 Years

06.12.17 - 06.12.19

Approved
39 080616 Patient Satisfaction towards pharmaceutical services provided in Vaiola Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy, Tonga Ms. Fisi’inuka Talanoa Completed

1 Year

05.07.16 - 05.07.17

Conditional Approval
40 211216 Tonga Global School-based Student Health Survey 2017 Dr. Reynold Ofanoa Pending Further Review - Yet to be Reviewed
41 NHERC 04/2013 Improvement of Tongan Lifestyle Approach from Oral Health Dr. Sayuri Kawamuri Awaiting Final Report

3 years

13.09.13 – 13.09.16

Conditional Approval
42 290916 The People living with HIV Stigma Index Ms. Prithika Prasad In Progress

1 year

12.10.16 – 12.10.17

Conditional Approval
43 190716 The Policy development process in relation to food-related policies in Tonga: A case study of the School Food Policy Associate Professor Colin Bell
Dr. Catherine Lātu 
In Progress

2 years

06.12.17 – 06.12.19

Approved
44 100117 Seeking moui lelei abroad Examining medical travel Ms. Zakea Boeger In Progress

1 year

10.01.17 – 10.01.18

Conditional Approval
45 080516 Data Security Assessment for Government Siuta Laulaupea'alu Terminated   Terminated / Discontinued
 
2         Final Reports Submitted;
 
The table below outlines all the Research studies reviewed by the NHERC that have been completed with their respective Final Reports submitted to the Secretariat of the NHERC. If you wish to read any of the final reports below, please file a request to the Secretariat of the NHERC for assistance at sfkupu@health.gov.to or sioapekupu@gmail.com
 
#
Reference
Title
Investigator(s)
Keywords
1
240414
Physical Activity among adolescents in the Vava’u Island: Tonga.
Mr. Simon Larrson (Medical Student)
Dr. Reynold ‘Ofanoa
NCD, Physical Activity, Health Promotion, Exercise, Adolescents, Teenagers
2
070714
What are the Normative, Perceived and Expressed Needs for Orthodontic Treatment amongst Tongan children aged 12 – 15 years old.
Nirmal Shal (Dental Student)
Dr. Susitina Piukala
Dental, Teeth, Orthodontic Needs, Children, Tonga
3
300714
The Impact of Australian Sports Outreach Program in Tonga
Mr. Siosaia Langitoto
Mr. Sione Hufanga
Evaluation, Kau Mai Campaign, Health Promotion, Healthy Lifestyle, Intervention, Exercise, Physical Activity, Weight, NCD
4
190914
The Impact of Cataract on Poverty
Dr. Judith McCool
Ms. Julienne Faletau (Masters Candidate)
Mrs. Mele Vuki
Cataract, Eyes, Ophthalmology, Disability, Poverty, Socioeconomic Status, Tonga, Impact Assessment.
5
211114.2
Assessing Tongan smokers’ responses to Television advertisements about serious harms of tobacco use
Dr. ‘Ofa Tukia
Tobacco, Smoking, Lifestyle, Advertisement, Television, Impact Assessment, Health Promotion
6
290115.1
Post-Mass Drug Administration Lymphatic Filariasis Transmission Assessment Survey.
Dr. Reynold ‘Ofanoa
Lymphatic Filariasis, Transmission, Elephantiasis, Filarial, Worms, Vector Disease, Infectious Disease, Mosquito, Public Health
7
030315
Formative Research into barriers to participation in physical activity in the Pacific
Dr. Tom Carroll
Dr. ‘Ofa Tukia
Mr. ‘Eva Mafi
Barriers, Participation, Physical Activity, Sports, Healthy Lifestyle, Health Promotion, Pacific, Formative, Perceptions, Marketing, Pacific
8
290115.2
Giving Birth: The Voices of Tongan Women in Tonga and the United States
Mrs. Shelly J. Reed
Sr. ‘Ana Kavaefiafi
Mrs. Meliame Tupou
Childbirth, Pregnancy, Women, Female, Baby, Infant, Tonga, United States of America, Comparison.
9
210115.1
Dentition Status and treatment needs of Down’s Syndrome individuals attending ‘Ofa Tu’i moe ‘Amanaki and ‘Alonga Residential Center’s specialized institutions in Nuku’alofa Tongatapu
Ms. Mele Likivai Foliaki (BDS 4th Dental student).
Dr. ‘Amanaki Fakakovikaetau
Dental, Teeth, Dentition, Oral Health, Down Syndrome, Disability, Treatment Needs, Tonga, Mental Health
10
210115.2
Periodontal status and treatment needs of Down’s Syndrome individuals attending two specialized institutions in Nuku’alofa Tongatapu.
Mr. James Heimuli (BDS 4th Dental student).
Dr. ‘Amanaki Fakakovikaetau
Dental, Teeth, Dentition, Oral Health, Down Syndrome, Disability, Treatment Needs, Tonga, Mental Health
11
100515
Prevalence and Factors contributing to Obesity among Tongan High School senior students in 2015
Ms. Litia ‘Ahoafi
Mr. Napolioni Vulakouvaki (Supervisor)
NCD, Prevalence, Risk Factors, Adolescent, Student, High School, Obesity, BMI, Senior Student, Secondary School, Tonga
12 190315.1 The Prevalence of Chlamydia among pregnant 
Dr. Louise Fonua
Dr. Veisinia Matoto
Chlamydia, Sexual Transmitted Infections (STI), Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STD), Sexual Health, Maternal Health, Pregnant Women, Tonga, Lifestyle, Behaviors.
13 190315.4 A Qualitative study exploring Tongan nurses' perspectives of the 'Advanced Nursing Diploma in the Prevention, Detection and Management of NCD'
Ms. Kieh Christopherson Dunn
Sr. ‘Ana Kavaefiafi
Evaluation, Nurses, Perceptions, NCD, Education, Training, Diploma Program, Tonga, Ministry of Health, Qualitative
14 190315.3 The extent to which changes in culture and lifestyle in particular health, exercise, diet, have had an impact on Tongan society
Ms. Jacinta Forde
Mr. Fa’aui Taumalolo
Ma’ukakala
Culture, Lifestyle, Impact, NCD, Health Promotion, Healthy Lifestyle, Tonga, Society, Anthropology
15 150414 Non-communicable disease-related disability research in the Pacific Islands: Tonga component
Dr. Wendy Snowden
Mr. Sione Pouliva’ati
NCD, Disability, Stroke, Amputation, Blindness, Rehabilitation, Tonga, Multi-country.
16 181115 The Clinical Effect of Short Spin Cross Match (Immediate Spin) Cross-match and Complete Match Red Cells Transfused to patients in Vaiola Hospital Mr. Semisi Lenati Laboratory, Cross Match, Immediate Spin, Comparison, Red Cells, Transfusion, Full Match Blood, AHG Test
17 310516

Use of Traditional Medicinal Plants by Patients

Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, Mellitus in Vaiola Hospital, Tongatapu, Tonga.

Ms. Mita Vaka

Traditional Medicine Plants, Tonga, Patients Diagnosed, Diabetes Mellitus
18 080616 Patient Satisfaction towards Pharmaceutical services provided in Vaiola Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy, Tonga. Ms. Fisi’inukonuka Talanoa Pharmaceutical services, Tonga, Vaiola Hospital, Patient Satisfactory