Guinea pigs’ scale-Everest bid hits snag

Kathmandu, March 31:

The British research team has suspended its ‘Extreme Everest Project’. The move came after the Nepal Health Research Council asked the team to furnish a proposal before conducting a research at the Mount Everest Base camp.

Dr Sarad Onta, member-secretary of the council, told this daily that the council received a letter from the team from Namche, Solukhumbu, asking for an apology.

He said the team will not conduct research unless it gets a permission from the government.

According to the law of the land, foreign agencies should involve Nepalis while conducting such a research. “We have no information about the involvement of the Nepalis in the research project,” said Dr Onta.

The project aimed to conduct a research on why some people cope with lack of oxygen better than others. According to media reports, the findings can help patients.

The team was planning to conduct tests on around 200 trekkers, who had volunteered as guinea pigs, during their summit attempts. According to the reports, the team planned to collect 15,000 blood samples and conduct 2,200 exercise tests.

In a letter sent to the council on Thursday, Mike Grocott of the Extreme Everest Project said the team has apologised for not seeking the government’s consent before conducting the research. The team is learnt to have clarified that the tests were being conducted on non-Nepalis by non-Nepalis.

“The team has to meet set criteria,” Dr Onta said. “The team must get permission for conducting the research.”

It is illegal to conduct such research in the country without prior permission from the authority concerned, Dr Onta said.

It might take some time from days to months to get the permission, Dr Onta said. The research proposal will get a green light only after the council’s Ethical and Technical Review Team reviews it.

Dr Mahesh Maskey, adviser to the Health Ministry, said, “Any research team must follow the law of the land. “We will speed up the process once the research team submits the proposal.”