The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, on Thursday brought its training programme, aimed at building the capacity of laboratory scientists in detecting, managing and preventing infectious diseases including COVID-19 to a closure.
Participants were equipped with knowledge and skills in Virology, Bacteriology, and Parasitology and also trained on how to help to detect the Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in their respective countries.
The eight-week training programme organised by the Institute in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with funding from the Japan Government, also sought to enhance the laboratory skills of participants for infectious diseases especially after the outbreak of Ebola.
Participating countries were Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, La Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo.
Professor Abraham Kwabena Anang, the Director of the Institute, said Africa, especially West Africa had to be alert to live up to expectations in fighting infectious diseases.
To accomplish that, he said, the region had to strengthen its health systems, which he believed was not resilient or strongly positioned, to be able to withstand emerging and re-emerging infections.
“This training programme is therefore to ensure that participating countries are not caught unaware by infectious diseases,” he said.
Prof. Anang expressed optimism that the partnership with JICA was going to help build critical and innovative capacity of represented countries.
The training had been well structured to deliver a targeted effectiveness to help diagnose, mentor, and deliver on surveillance in African countries, he stated.
Ms Ozawa Maki, a Senior Representative of JICA, Ghana Office, said although the COVID-19 had not widely spread across West Africa, it was inevitable to strengthen the sub-regional response and preparedness for public health emergencies.
As Noguchi played a pivotal role in strengthening technical capacity for infectious disease control in Ghana and beyond, she said the joint programme was the best way for JICA to contribute to the progress of the West African sub-region.
She advised the trainees to bear in mind the important role collaboration and coordination played in addressing health emergencies, and resort to sharing information and working in a team to achieve their goals.
“It is my hope also, that the capacities you have built through this training will help the achievement of the Universal Health Coverage in Ghana, and also SDGs by your countries and the sub-region at large.
“With the knowledge you have acquired, we expect that there will be improvement in early detection through proper diagnosis, and also support treatment and response through accurate laboratory assessment of situations,” Ms Ozawa said.
Mr Hiromoto Oyama, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Ghana, said one of the priorities of the Japan Government, was to ensure the existence of human security in Africa through capacity building programmes.
His office, he said, was elated about the training, which had an aim of developing the skills of health professionals to fight health-related canker in Africa.
He encouraged the trainees to let their individual countries benefit from the knowledge they had acquired by contributing to public health.
The trainees expressed gratitude to Noguchi and its partners with citations and gave an assurance to employ the knowledge they had acquired to the benefit of their homelands and neighbouring countries.