Protecting participants in health research: the South African material transfer agreement

M. Labuschaigne*, A. Dhai, S. Mahomed, K. Behrens, A. Nienaber, K. Moodley, P. Cleaton-Jones, A. Olckers, N. Maepa, C. Penny

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


The need to transfer human biological materials (HBMs) across national boundaries has become increasingly important in view of increased biobank and commercial activities globally. In light of South Africa (SA)‘s history of colonisation and racial discrimination, coupled with well-known instances of exploitation of research participants in the developing world, it is critical that the management of HBMs from and to other jurisdictions is explored and regulated. Material transfer agreements (MTAs) represent an important point of departure in such a process. This article explores the need for a uniform MTA in SA and discusses some aspects of the recently gazetted national MTA, which provides a framework that can serve as a safeguard for cross-border transfer of HBMs in the absence of the National Health Act’s chapter 8 regulations in this regard.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-356
Number of pages4
JournalSouth African Medical Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Material transfer agreement
  • Human biological material
  • Need
  • Research participants
  • Cross-border transfer
  • Exploitation
  • Uniform national material transfer agreement
  • South Africa


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