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
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.
BY RAISSA SAMBOU