West African researchers
West African researchers

Professor Abraham K. Anang, the Director of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), has related the numerous strides in disease control in Ghana’s health sector, to the sustained research and training of the Institute.

He said through the hard work of the Institute some cutting-edge research outcomes had been made, leading to breakthroughs in the treatments for diseases including Tuberculosis (TB), Buruli Ulcer and malaria.

However, there was still a lot more to be done, citing the current challenges of resistance to some TB drugs among patients, and also the high disease burden, currently being experienced across the continent and globally, which cannot be overlooked, he said.

Prof. Anang, who was speaking at the opening of the three-day West African Network for TB, AIDS and Malaria (WANETAM) Annual General Meeting in Accra, admitted that, although the Institute faces serious research financing constraints, it has over the years sought funding from several agencies and Networks.

These collaborations had assisted the Institute in the training of scientists and in conducting biomedical research for disease control, he said.

Prof. Anang said the NMIMR, which was a key constituent of the College of Health Sciences of the University of Ghana, aims at becoming a world class research and training institution, through building and maintaining strong partnerships with all stakeholders and beneficiaries, including the public.

The WANETAM meeting, which was on the theme: “Empowering African Research Institutions through Capacity Building, Partnership and Networking,” would focus on the assessment of the one-year project activities and in-depth discussions and reprogramming of its future plans.

Prof. Patrick Ayeh-Kumi, the Provost of the College of Health Sciences of the University of Ghana, applauded the NMIMR for the tireless efforts in promoting cutting-edge research and training, not only for Ghanaian scientists, but also for such professionals across West Africa and even beyond.

He expressed the hope that the ideas and discussions at the meeting would lead to the formulation of evidence-based policy for the modification of treatment, to ensure the careful use of drugs for the prevention of extreme resistance.

Prof. Souleymane Mboup, the President of the Institute for Health Research, Epidemiological and Surveillance and Training (IRESSEF) in Dakar, Senegal and Coordinator of WANETAM, giving a brief background of the Network said, it was part of a group of four Nodes of Excellence created by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP), to combat poverty-related diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa.

He said the Network therefore brings together four European and 16 West African institutions, including the NMIMR, with the objective of capacity building and technology transfer to prepare institutions in the sub-Region for successful conduct of clinical trials, and also to create networks of excellence for sub-regional scientific collaborations.

The Network with funding from EDCTP, was currently embarking on the second phase of a project to address Neglected Tropical Diseases and Ebola, and to build and strengthen the established regional, national, institutional and individual capacities to conduct clinical trials, in line with the International Conference on Harmonisation guidelines for Good Clinical Practice.

He said this would among other things strengthen collaboration and optimize the use of resources and infrastructure within the network-shared facilities such as clinical laboratories and data centres, and also promote professional development and scientific leadership in clinical trials through training and mentorship.

Dr Moses John Bockarie, the Director of South-South Cooperation and Head of EDCTP Africa Office in Cape Town, South Africa, said the funding institution was content with the work of the Network, but emphasized on the need for WANETAM to work at enhancing their activities to secure further grants, after its current second phase of project ends in 2024.

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