Africa CDC donates equipment to Noguchi

The African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) yesterday donated two genomic sequencing equipment and a data analysis machine to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) to enhance public health response measures in the West African sub-region.

It is to enable the institute to improve research on emerging disease-causing organisms in the country and on the West Africa sub-region for prompt action by stakeholders.

The gesture forms part of the Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative (PGI) by the Africa CDC to strengthen the capacity of laboratories in member states as means of preparing, responding and effectively managing health emergencies.

Thee Program Lead of the PGI, Dr Sofonias Tessema, handing over the equipment to the institute, said the outbreak of COVID-19 had reinforced the significance of genome sequencing in advancing healthcare across the globe.

The process determines the entirety, or nearly the entirety, of an organism and it’s mode of transmission for quick response.

He said the NMIMR had been instrumental in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic amidst the emergence of new variants both in-country and on the African region.

“Noguchi has been at the center of supporting countries in the region, including Togo, Benin, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to identify variants, monitor the circulation of variants and understand how the virus is evolving.”

This, Dr Tessema observed, had helped Ghana manage its waves, taking important steps to contain spread of the disease and ensure efficiency in managing cases.

The equipment, according to him, not only detects emerging variants but also,   help determine the potency of authorised vaccines to protect the populace against the SARS-COV-2 virus.

“I think detection of variants is very critical to determine the efficacy of vaccines, whether the vaccine is working or not, whether we have a new variant that escapes the vaccine, whether the diagnostics are working or whether our responses are actually working.

So, this is an essential component of the overall pandemic response and this capacity would improve the research and development of new vaccines and new diagnostics for other pathogens.”

Dr Tessema expressed hope that the equipment increases the overall capacity of Ghana and the sub-region to reduce the time that it takes to generate data on emerging diseases “so that data becomes readily available for public health officials to decide on evidence-based decisions to contain them very quickly”.

The Director of NMIMR, Professor Dorothy Yeboah-Manu expressed appreciation to the Africa CDC for the gesture which she said, would enhance the institute’s mandate to conduct research into diseases of public health concern.

“This machine is going to give us the opportunity to increase our genome sequencing to more than 2000 a week which is our capacity now.”

“We have to continue to study the emergence of new ones. Everything seems to be working now but we can’t just sit down; we need to do continuous monitoring. So this machines are going to allow us do that so that we are not taken by surprise,” she added.


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