Background: Institutional Ethics Committees (IECs) in India are in their infancy stage
which has significant implications in context to oversight of the protection of human participants.
The critical and first step to support the protection of research participants and improve the scientific
quality of health research is to understand how these IECs currently function.
Objective: Authors assessed the functioning of IECs to understand the neglected status of IECs in
health research institutes providing the graduate/postgraduate education under the jurisdiction of
Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), Faridkot (A state govt. funded autonomous
Method: A cross sectional study was done to assess the general information about IECs, training
level, activity levels, application process and review procedures of IECs in health research institutions
of Punjab, India. A structured self-administered questionnaire was developed and used for
compilation of all the information.
Results: In this study authors obtained response from 56% health research institutes of Punjab. Data
revealed significant shortcomings in the existence of formal IECs (54%), non accreditated Drug Controller
General of India (DCGI) status (86%), inadequate training level (85%), non allocation of
dedicated budget for IECs (92%), poor documentation and standard operating procedures (75%),
poor competence and exposure of IECs to review varied research proposal etc. Most of IECs review
quantitative studies (67%) as well as most of IECs do not operate actively (irregular meeting in
Conclusion: This study indicates very poor status of IECs in health research institutes of Punjab that
need urgent attention of regulatory authorities. Therefore, authors suggest that the IECs must be registered
with DCGI for the improvement in structure and functioning of IECs.