The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) of the University of Ghana has begun a five-week capacity-building training in infectious diseases for 15 laboratory technicians from nine West African countries.
The course, which opened in Accra yesterday, is intended to improve on the competencies of biomedical staff on infectious agents and also orientate them to new and emerging laboratory technology.
It is also to help promote networking in advanced laboratory management among West African countries for better health outcomes.
The participants will also learn best laboratory practices and latest innovations and technologies in “virology, bacteriology and parasitology”.
The programme is being supported by the government of Japan, with scientists and technologists from the NMIMR as facilitators.
The Director of the institute, Professor Abraham Annan, said the training was the third in a series the institute had organised for laboratory technicians working in public health institutions in West Africa.
He said it formed part of efforts to enhance the capacity of the subregion in the management of emerging and re-emerging diseases.
He said the programme was necessary, following the emergence of Ebola in the region between 2014 and 2016 and the recent COVID-19 pandemic which had led to loss of lives and caused disruptions in social and economic activities.
The director added that it also formed part of preparations for the effective management of future global health threats.
The Chief Country Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Mr Araki Yasumichi, highlighted the relevance and timeliness of the training programme in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in West Africa.
“The positive lessons and rich experiences acquired by former participants of the training made most of them play significant roles in the COVID-19 testing strategy of their respective countries,” he said.
He explained that based on those achievements and the positive reactions from participating countries, JICA decided to extend support for the third country training exercise by an additional three years: from 2021 to 2024.
He said the Japanese government would continue to support Ghana’s efforts to actualise quality and accessible universal health care.
Mr Yasumichi said the support from his government was also aimed at helping prevent and manage various life-threatening diseases.