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New malaria vaccine effective, poses no difficulties

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A Deputy Minister of Health, Alexander K.K. Abban, has stated that the Ministry of Health has so far not recorded any negative reaction to the new anti-malaria vaccines for children that is being piloted in some selected regions in the country.

He said contrary to fears that the anti-malaria vaccines could come with some difficulties, credible information received from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) indicated that nothing of the sort had been recorded since the roll-out began in April this year.

Mr Abban revealed this in an interview with the Daily Graphic at the opening of the 4th annual West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) Conference at Legon in Accra yesterday.

“The pilot exercise has been successful so far since information from the Ghana Health Service indicates that the initial doubts people raised have been completely cleared.

“We have not had any negative incident anywhere. No new parent is also challenging the Ministry of Health against administering the vaccines to their children,” he said.

He urged all parents in the areas where the vaccines were being piloted to cooperate because it would protect their babies against the malaria parasite.

The vaccines

The pilot of the world’s first anti-malaria vaccine for children aged between six months and two years was begun in Ghana on April 30, 2019.

Known as RTS, S or Mosquirix, the vaccine is being introduced as a boost to Ghana’s National Anti-Malaria Programme.

The pilot is currently being conducted in 33 districts across the Bono, Bono East, Ahafo, Central, Volta and Oti regions.

Prior to the commencement of the exercise, a section of the public expressed doubts about the efficacy of the vaccines, fearing that it could affect the health of babies who would be introduced to it.

Conference

The WACCBIP research conference is an annual showcase of world-class research conducted by fellows of the WACCBIP and members of the centre’s international faculty drawn from prestigious institutions across the world.

The three-day conference, which will end on Thursday, July 26, 2019, will assemble about 250 top research institutions and industries in Africa, Europe, and the U.S.A. to share their works.

It is on the theme: “Building partnerships towards healthcare innovation for Africa.”

Focus on local needs

Mr Abban urged all research institutions in the country to ensure that their research was directed at specific local needs and contributed to finding solutions to the country’s problems.

“Research will be pointless if it does not go to alleviate the immediate challenges of our people. We always encourage our health researchers to find relevance to our context and our needs in their search for answers,” he told the gathering.

The Pro Vice-Chancellor in Charge of Academic Affairs at the University of Ghana, Professor Samuel Kwame Offei, said the university was enrolling some of the brilliant scientists at the WACCBIP as research fellows and lecturers in line with its agenda to become a world-class research university.

The Director of WACCBIP, Mr Gordon Awandare, underscored the need for industry to work closely with academia, invest in research activities and contribute to finding home-grown solutions to the country’s problems.

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