The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) on Wednesday, 24th November 2021 launched its COVID-19 Symposium Series under the theme “COVID-19 In Ghana: The Noguchi Story”.
The aim of the COVID-19 Symposium Series is to share findings from data the Institute, together with its stakeholders, has gathered on COVID-19 in Ghana.
Speaking at the event, Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana and the Chairperson of the event noted that the Institute’s theme for the COVID-19 Symposium Series is in line with her vision of improving the University’s visibility and maintaining a consistent positive media presence. She added, “Telling our stories from our perspective is one of the critical means of achieving this goal. Let me congratulate NMIMR for literally running with this vision”.
She further indicated that NMIMR under the College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana has been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19 and congratulated the Institute for this the Institute is the first to establish diagnostic capacity in Ghana and confirmed the first case in March 2020. She commended the staff at the Institute for their selfless efforts in providing the technical capacity and for being the main COVID-19 testing laboratory during the onset of the transmission in Ghana.
“I laud all Directors, past and present, and the staff of the Institute for their restless efforts and commitment to the mission and vision of this Institute. I congratulate you not only for the work done in curbing the spread of the virus and not just in relation to this pandemic but also to other biosecurity concerns including the ongoing yellow fever outbreak in Ghana”, she added.
The Deputy Minister for Information, Honorable Fatimatu Abubakar, who represented the Information Minister and Guest of Honor, Honorable Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, launched the Symposium series and indicated that the Government of Ghana has significantly expanded the COVID-19 testing capacity. She further stated that the Government has scaled up the domestic production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to build the capacity of the Ghanaian health systems resilience for future health emergencies.
“Ghana’s approach to testing and contact tracing thus far had highlighted the importance of research in dealing with COVID-19 and any other future health menaces. And I would like to commend the staff of NMIMR for their leadership and continuous efforts in terms of research and contact tracing”, she added.
She further pointed out that government remains committed to partnering with NMIMR to build a resilient health system.
Her Ladyship Justice Sophia Akuffo, former Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the COVID-19 National Trust Fund, and the Chairperson of the University of Ghana Council, explained that the COVID-19 National Trust Fund has become a proud partner of NMIMR through the provision of various types of support.
She pointed out that the COVID-19 National Trust Fund recognized the importance of research, implementation, and effective record management in the field of science, medicine, and the management of the global health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“It is in the light of this that we found it prudent at the Trust to provide financial and logistical support of items worth 3 million cedis to NMIMR to enhance testing and continuous research into various aspects of the virus since it is novel and still evolving”, she added
Professor Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, Director of NMIMR said the commitment and dedication of staff over the years have positioned the Institute to receive several recognitions for research activities both as an Institute and as individual scientists with the most recent one being the Millennium Excellence Award for Science and Research.
The program continued after a short break with various presentations on the work done by the Institute in the fight against the virus. The first presentation was on “COVID-19 in Ghana: Noguchi’s Contribution to Diagnosis” and highlighted strategies the Institute devised to set up a functional diagnostic center to support the surveillance and case management activities of the Ghana Health Service as well as diagnostic and biosafety capacity across both public and private health centers.
The second presentation was titled “COVID-19 Pandemic in Ghana: The Race for Survival”. This also highlighted the need for sustained and intensified genomic surveillance of the virus in the population as an early detection tool for potential outbreaks and to inform related health policies in Ghana. The presentation also further highlighted the extension of NMIMR’s sequencing capacity to support the sequencing of samples from a number of West African neighboring countries.
The last presentation was titled “COVID-19 Specific Antibody Responses in Vaccinated Ghanaian Adults” and highlighted the development of COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies in individuals who had received the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine with or without prior exposure to COVID-19.
The event witnessed over 600 hundred participants both in person and on the various virtual platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Zoom.