15 Lab Technicians from West, Central Africa sharpen skills at Noguchi

The Third Country Training Course on enhancing laboratory skills for infectious diseases in West and Central African countries has opened at Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) in Accra yesterday.

The eight-week training course for 15 participants from ten countries is being held with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The participants

The objective of the training workshop is to enhance diagnostic skills for infectious diseases among laboratory personnel within the West and Central African countries.

It was also meant to improve routine surveillance, and also respond to the growing threat of public health emergencies after the Ebola outbreak.

The participating countries included Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Liberia, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso.

Welcoming the participants, the Director of NMIMR, Professor Dorothy Yeboah –Manu, said it was the fourth time the institute was hosting the programme which kept expanding every year since it started in 2019.

She said cumulatively, 42 laboratory professionals from 10 West African countries had received both theory and laboratory skills training within the last three workshops.

Prof. Yeboah-Manu said the world was threatened by a multitude of infectious disease outbreaks, adding that in recent years the world had been exposed to several diseases including cholera, influenza, Ebola, Lassa fever, Covid-19, monkeypox and Marburg virus diseases.

She said the effect of these diseases had emphasised the importance of good laboratory skills in the delivery of quality healthcare, saying, “you can only fight if you know what you are dealing with as such, workshops such as these are vital in the fight against public health threats.”

Araki Yasumichi, Chief Representative of JICA-Ghana said he was excited because the programme could not have come at a more relevant time when the world was continuously battling various waves of diseases.

He said the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on health systems across the world showed how inadequate the capacity of the health workforce, adding that the poor access to quality health services had profound implications on the health of citizens.

Mr Yasumichi said key in the fight against COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks was having a robust surveillance and biomedical research system with adequate technical capacity saying, “there is therefore  a need for strengthening the capacity of the laboratory workforce across the West Africa sub-region to strengthen the biomedical research network and enhanced effective response to current and emerging pandemics.

“It is in this regard that JICA in collaboration with the renowned Noguchi Institute initiated the training course,” he said.

He said the course has been established to provide intensive training programme in modern laboratory technology to improve the competencies of medical staff on infectious agents as well as promote networking on advanced laboratory management among African countries.

BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI

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