Maiden West Africa Network for Infectious Diseases symposium begins in Accra

 The maiden West Africa Network for Infectious Diseases (WANIDA) sym­posium, seeking to brainstorm on how to address health challenges in Africa is underway in Accra.

The three-day event is on the theme “Infectious diseases in an era of global change: Innovative multidisciplinary pan-African efforts towards building capacity in Africa.”

It brought together participants from Niger, Ghana, Nigeria, Burki­na Faso, Guinea and Benin.

Thematic areas for the pro­gramme are surveillance and preparedness for new pandemics, pathogenic basis of diseases and host responses, innovative disease prevention strategies and vacci­nology, neglected tropical diseases and strategic malaria control and elimination.

Speaking at the opening of the symposium, Chief of the Labora­tory of Malaria Immunology and Vaccinology, Dr Patrick Duffy, said there had been a lot of progress in malaria vaccine development in

 recent years.

He said Ghana had played a key role in showing the Mosquirix- RTSS, which is the first vaccine recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), to prevent and significantly reduce life threatening malaria in children, could be implemented safely and could benefit children.

“This vaccine in question has shown to be able to reduce clinical malaria in children. After the suc­cess of RTSS and others, a lot of efforts will be put in place to de­velop more effective vaccines and address other aspects of malaria like malaria in pregnant women,” he added.

However, he indicated that during the production of vaccines, authorities must also consider how accessible and affordable the vaccines could be, to enable many people, especially the poor to benefit from it.

Dr Duffy revealed that his outfit was in the process of developing a new vaccine which was based on naturally acquired immunity for pregnant women and the public in general, as parts of efforts to completely eliminate malaria.

Bringing in the Mosquirix- RTSS vaccine, he said, was a huge step taken by Ghana and other coun­tries to show that the implemen­tation of malaria vaccines was possible.

A representative of the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, Mr Nicaise Tuikue Ndam, said African leaders must focus on establishing industries focused on the develop­ment and research into vaccines produced within the sub region.

According to him, there were many African research scientists across the world who had contrib­uted significantly to the develop­ment of WHO approved vaccines, therefore, it was possible for Africa to begin the production of safe and efficacious vaccines.

Deputy Director in charge of Research, West Africa Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Patho­gens (WACCBIP), Dr Peter Kojo Quashie, on his part said it was important for African countries to employ various technologies to address major health challenges on the continent while preparing for possible future pandemics.


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