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A multidisciplinary project has started at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research. The project under the theme, “Surveillance and Laboratory Support for Emerging Pathogens”, is being undertaken jointly by the Institute, the Ghana Health Service (GHS), and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)/ Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED).

The project, which is expected to span a period of 5 years, is aimed at improving disease surveillance, particularly, the enteric fevers in Ghana. The 140th birth anniversary of Dr. Hideyo Noguchi is being observed this year as part of the project launch.

The project was conceived as a follow up to the Ebola outbreak and to serve as support to the Ghana Health Service in case of future outbreaks. The Ga West Municipality has been selected as the study area. The community based surveillance system would pick up strange infections by taking samples for analysis.
In his welcome address, Director of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Prof. Kwadwo Koram expressed the hope that the project would inure to the benefit of Ghana and the sub region as a whole and also promote international research.

A representative of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Badu Sarkodie commended stakeholders for making the surveillance project possible. He emphasised the need to strengthen systems to support emergency outbreak of diseases. He mentioned that it was imperative to take steps that will put in place resilient and early detection measures that will check emerging and re-emerging public health infections.

According to Dr. Sarkodie, aside maternal mortality, enteric fevers cost countries more than all other causes of death. As such, there is the need to adequately implement policies that support global health security. He thanked the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the government of Japan for their support. He called for individual and institutional capacities to be strengthened to take up the responsibility of ensuring global health security.

A representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Mr. Makino spoke about the forty-year partnership between JICA and the Institute which was established in remembrance of  Dr. Hideyo Noguchi who died of yellow fever in Ghana while researching on it.
Mr. Makino congratulated the Institute for their efforts in public health especially during the Ebola outbreak two years ago. According to him, Ghana has great potential in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UCH) and was very optimistic the Institute would lead the charge.

H.E. Kaoru Yoshimura, Japanese Ambassador

The Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Kaoru Yoshimura, in a short address, mentioned that the health sector was key in the discussion. He mentioned Ghana, Senegal and Kenya as having been selected as model countries for the surveillance project. He was also confident that this partnership would further the achievement of the Universal Health Coverage under the Sustainable Development Goal 7.

The World Health Organization Country representative, Dr. Owens Kaluwa, called on stakeholders to strive to ensure global health security because infectious diseases were a major cause of morbidity in the sub region. In his presentation, he underscored the need for early detection and control of infections which would strengthen global health. He was of the view that the project would build medical research capacity in the country.

In his closing remarks, Professor Koram encouraged young people to come up with more research areas to be explored. He hinted that the Japanese government had earmarked 20 million dollars for a new research laboratory for the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical research and was grateful for the kind gesture.

Credit- University of Ghana website

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