STAPHRICA and AFRISTAPHNET are two hitherto independent consortia that came together to form a consolidated network with the following objectives:
- To establish a network of researchers working on S. aureus in Africa;
- To develop human capacity in the identification, antibiotic susceptibility testing, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis of S. aureus in Africa;
- To conduct a retrospective study on the genomic epidemiology of S. aureus in Africa;
- To set up a prospective surveillance study on S. aureus disease in Africa; and
- To obtain funding to support research projects conducted by the Network.
The first kick-off meeting took place at the University of Ghana, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, and brought together biomedical scientists and physicians with research focus on Staphylococcus aureus from ten African countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Gabon, Kenya, Mozambique, South-Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Gambia), and the United Kingdom (UK). The meeting presented a platform for the researchers to:
- Share current research work on S. aureus;
- Plan a training course/programme on laboratory identification, antibiotic susceptibility testing, sequencing and bioinformatic analysis of S. aureus;
- Plan a retrospective study on the molecular epidemiology of S. aureus in Africa, based on existing human and animal isolate collection;
- Plan a prospective surveillance study of S. aureus in Africa, using whole-genome sequencing (WGS);
- Identify funding opportunities to support the network and research projects; and
- Plan a review article that will position the network in the scientific community.
The meeting was characterized with lively discussions and relevant contributions from participants. A major highlight of the meeting was the merger of the two consortia into a new entity; StaphNetAfrica: www.staphnetafrica.org
The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and funding from the Government of Japan has organized a four day workshop on improving disease monitoring capacities and early warning system in West African countries.
The workshop is part of a regional project: Supporting and Strengthening Sub-Regional Post-Ebola Medical Surveillance and Socio-Economic Recovery Initiatives in West Africa, which is designed to provide technical assistance and support at sub-regional, national and grassroots level to the three Ebola affected countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone), and Côte d’Ivoire. It was intended to assist these countries to address urgent needs in the health, social and economic recovery, conflict prevention and peace building in common border areas. This initiative also seeks to strengthen and assist border communities to better respond to disasters/epidemics.
The workshop is expected to result in improved abilities of five countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) to:
- Rapidly identify diseases of public health importance and outbreak potential
- Use GIS for enhanced disease surveillance especially at the border areas
- Apply tools for disease risk assessment, vulnerability mapping and effective risk communication towards preparedness and outbreak control.
Seven delegates each from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone for a total of 35 participants attended the workshop.
In attendance were the Japanese Ambassador, the Sierra Leone High Commissioner, UNDP Country Director, Director for Public Health, GHS and a representative from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
In his opening remarks, the Director of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) Professor Kwabena Mante Bosompem , welcomed all participants to the workshop and indicated that it was one of the most important programs to be organised and expressed his gratitude to the Japanese Embassy, the UNDP for their immense support. In his address, Professor Mante Bossompem indicated that there is a great expectation for the workshop and encouraged participating countries to work together in strengthening capacity across borders.
Professor Kwabena Mante Bosompem
The Japanese Ambassador His Excellency Kaoru Yoshimura said that in 2014 the West African Sub Region suffered an outbreak of the Ebola virus disease which many people lost their families, as a result the Government of Japan immediately responded to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease on the request of the Government of Ghana and the International organizations to support the unfortunate situation. According to the Ambassador, the support through the International Organization including UNDP reached over 127 million US Dollars in 2014 and 2015 respectively over the last three years.
‘Ebola today is no more a talking point and we are all proud of the achievement. It is important for us to take into account the lesson learnt from this outbreak and continue working on these issues to prevent catastrophe in the future. His Excellency indicated that at the TICAD VI conference in Kenya last year, Japan’s cooperation in the Health sector especially strengthening the Health System Resilience was introduced as one of the three committed pillars. He expressed his confidence about how the workshop will help contribute in strengthening the health system of the Region by sharing experience from different countries and enriching our skills and knowledge.
In his address, the Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service Dr. Badu Sarkodie indicated that the global infectious disease outbreak such as Avian Influenza, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus, Meningitis and Yellow fever which spreads from Persons and across borders pose a serious public health risk to all countries and the risk is especially high for low and middle resourced countries with less developed systems to prevent ,detect and rapidly respond to emerging and re-emerging public health threats.
Dr Sarkodie said though Ghana was spared the EVD epidemic that affected the sub region, it is highly notable how the sub region still remains inadequately prepared to face the challenges with Public Health Emergencies. He revealed that Ghana has been having frequent Cholera outbreaks; 2014 was one of the worst with over 28,000 cases which led to 218 deaths.
CSM however, remains endemic in the three northern regions in this regard the WHO has urged member countries to develop and sustain adequate capacity for the implementation of international Health regulations and strengthen health systems. According to the Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service, Ghana recently subjected its systems to Joint External Evaluation which had revealed a number of gaps which required urgent attention which will position the country to contribute meaningfully to the global health security agenda as a result there is the need for countries to fully develop National Action Plan for Health Security and the need to invest in Health Security which must be seen by all as a major contribution towards sustaining Developmental Goals.
In conclusion, he expressed his expectation that the workshop should propose strategies and practical mechanisms for epidemic prevention and control that will enhance community resilience and preparedness for epidemics and all other public health emergences to protect humanity and livelihood’. He also expressed his delight and gratefulness about Ghana being selected as the host country for the workshop and added that Ghana will continue to support regional and continental efforts for emerging diseases.
The UNDP Country Director Dr. Domimic Sam said the 2014 Ebola outbreak which spread wide in the West Africa Sub region indicated how important it is to be prepared and work as a team. According to him the Sustainable Development Goal 3 stressed the need for countries to work together as a team to fight such Epidemics. He indicated that there is the need to put systems in place to strengthen Capacity which was the reason for the workshop.
Workshop participants from Cote d'Ivoire
Participants from Ghana
Workshop participants from Guinea
Participants from Liberia
Participants from Seirra Leone
The Department of Parasitology started the implementation of Quality Management Systems in April 2014, with the support of the Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine), through funding from the Department for International Development (DFID). Following a formal assessment by SGS in July 2017, the Department has been certified as meeting the requirements of the ISO 9001:2015 standard.
Prof. Kwabena M. Bosompem, Director of the Institute, receiving the ISO 9001:2015 certification on behalf of the Department of Parasitology from Mr. Kwasi Okai-Mensah, the Lead Auditor of SGS-Ghana. Present was the Institute’s Administrator, Mr. Okyere Boateng.
Dr. O. Peter Adams, Dean Faculty of Medical Sciences, Dr. Kenneth Connell, Deputy Dean- Preclinical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences (FMS) of the University of the West Indies (UWI) as part of their trade mission to Ghana called on the Director and staff of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.
The visit was to discuss partnership with the Institute. The delegation informed the Director the visit was to identify possible areas for collaboration for programs, projects (research), identify lead “Champions” to advance discussion on the areas identified above as well as to achieve the necessary senior administrative support especially in the Medical field. The delegation also hinted how the two universities have a lot in common. According to him, the two universities have the same founding year which is 1948 and both being originally an affiliate college of the University of London hence the need to establish healthy ties between sister universities.
The Director of the Institute Professor Kwabena Mante Bosompem was elated by the visit and highlighted the core mandate of the Institutes. He also mentioned the shared areas of research and possibilities for next steps. The Institute has a high research output with contributions mainly in the area of infectious disease. He was hopeful that strong collaborations will be built between the two academies.
Professor Kwabena Bosompem(left) and Dr. Adams(right) in a discussion
Dr. Adams mentioned the UWI could benefit from the expertise at NMIMR in the area of infectious diseases whilst NMIMR on the other hand is well placed to partner with UWI on NCD research.
Both institutions promised to identify "champions" on specific projects to lead the next phase of discussions.
The FMS team assured the Director that the relationship between the two institutions will have commitment from both the academics and senior administrative officers.
The team toured the research laboratories and met with staff and Faculty members of the Institute and also familiarise themselves with the Institute’s facilities.
The Ghana AIDS Commission has invited Dr. Evelyn Yayra Bonney to present the findings of her work on HIV drug resistance at its 4th Strategic Information Dissemination Forum to be held in Kumasi on 27-28th September 2017. The purpose of this Forum is to share results from key population surveys, update on current research being conducted and consult stakeholders on pertinent issues regarding HIV and AIDS management in Ghana.
Evelyn completed her PhD in 2013. She worked on a project designed to collect evidence-based information about an important problem (drug resistance) in the management of HIV/AIDS using antiretroviral therapy (ART). The emergence of drug resistance during ART has the potential to offset the gains made during treatment. The project sought to find the extent of drug resistance among HIV patients on therapy and how this was affected by the country’s ART policy at the time. The results showed that a high percentage of patients had resistance to the drugs they were taking and also to other drugs in the same class, which they had never taken. Some of these patients, carrying drug- resistant strains, were apparently doing well according to the monitoring tools in use at the time. This meant that HIV patients in Ghana were not getting the best out of ART because the monitoring tools were inadequate. The study therefore recommended a modification in ART policy to include routine viral load and drug resistance tests as part of the monitoring tools, particularly before a switch in regimen, to inform decision on the new regimen.
Dr. Evelyn Yayra Bonney
Dr. Evelyn Yayra Bonney is a Research Fellow in the Virology Department of Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research. Her research interests include virus-host interactions and antiviral research with a focus on Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). She holds a PhD in Biochemistry and envisages becoming a renowned HIV researcher; with a well-equipped laboratory for cutting-edge research and training of younger scientists. She is currently a Fellow of the NIH/ Fogarty Global Health Equity Scholars program and a member of the Ghana ART and HIVDR Technical Working Group.