An ultra-modern advanced research laboratory to propel in-depth research into infectious diseases and their possible cure on the West African sub-region was inaugurated in Accra on Tuesday.
The facility, belonging to Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) of the University of Ghana (UG), presents additional resources in terms of specialised equipment and new technologies to strengthen the institute’s capacity in preventing, detecting and diagnosing dangerous pathogens that threaten quality healthcare on the region.
Funded by a $20-million Japanese grant, the opening of the facility formed part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of the NMIMR on the theme: “Noguchi@40: strengthening global health gains through partnership in biomedical research.”
Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, in a speech observed that the opening of the new laboratory had come at a time the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) was increasing efforts at preventing, detecting and controlling public health emergencies.
Lauding the Japanese government for funding the project, the Minister urged management of the university to ensure effective maintenance of the facility to enable it live up to its mandate.
“Public institutions are famed for poor culture of maintenance and we cannot allow that nature to affect this new laboratory. I challenge the university to create a new and positive narrative on this attitude.
This edifice must be the same or even better in the next five years. Don’t let it break down before you do maintenance, do not allow the paint to fade off before you paint. We must learn the maintenance culture of the Japanese,” he insisted.
Mr Osafo-Maafo pledged governments’ support to the establishment of an endowment fund for the institute to ensure constant cash flow for health research to achieve universal healthcare by 2030.
“It is our earnest expectation that this facility will serve its purpose of providing cutting edge and world class research and knowledge in the prevention and treatment of various diseases,” he noted.
Director of NMIMR, Professor Abraham Kwabena Anang who highly commended the government of Japan for its continuous support to the institute since its inception noted that the coming on board of the new facility would position the centre as a hub for multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research for a holistic one health approach.
Calling into mind the threefold mandate of the Noguchi institute, including conducting research, building capacity and providing diagnostics and monitoring services in public health, Prof. Anang noted that the commissioning of the laboratory presents an opportunity to achieve that mandate to the letter.
“We will leverage this advanced research facility in new innovative partnerships to benefit from new ideas, initiatives and innovation to drive us into the future with renewed vigor and vitality that will set us aside as a true leader in the world of biomedical research for the attainment of global health security,” he stated.
Vice Chancellor of UG, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu asked that Ghanaians drew lessons from Japan in instilling the principles of value for money and time management in advancing national development.
“This edifice teaches us the need to uphold and practicalise attitudes of financial prudence, integrity, honesty, timely delivery of services etc which are true elements of attitudinal change and laying blocks for national development.”
Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Ghana Office, Mr Hirofuma Hoshi on his part was optimistic “Ghanaians will be safe through this advance research centre if ebola-like dangerous outbreaks occur” and that, “through our support, research and cure for life threatening diseases will be under the control of Ghanaian researchers in the near future.”