Scientists, researchers confer on drugs, vaccines

BY: Rebecca Quaicoe Duho
Prof. Felix Asante (left), Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Development (RID), University of Ghana (UG), interacting with Prof. Eric Danquah (right), Director, West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), after the conference. With them is  Prof. Gordon Awandare (middle), Director, WACCBIP. Picture: Maxwell Ocloo
Prof. Felix Asante (left), Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Development (RID), University of Ghana (UG), interacting with Prof. Eric Danquah (right), Director, West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), after the conference. With them is Prof. Gordon Awandare (middle), Director, WACCBIP. Picture: Maxwell Ocloo

A three-day conference to showcase new scientific knowledge and novel applications of technology which will lead to the development of new disease diagnostic tools, drugs and vaccines has opened in Accra.

It is being organised by the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) on the theme:    "Building sustainable research capacity in Africa: Lessons from the Pandemic."

The conference is also aimed at providing an opportunity for young scientists trained at the centre to connect with world-renowned scientists and industry professionals.

 It is being held as an in-person and virtual event with about 350 participants from research institutions and industries in Africa, Europe and the USA.

Need to be self-sufficient

The Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, who opened the conference, commended WACCBIP, which has a team of virologists, immunologists, bioinformaticians and geneticists, for its immense contribution to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the pandemic had brought to the fore the need for countries to be self-sufficient in whatever they did. He also commended WACCBIP for being very much involved with COVID-19-related research and national response activities since the disease broke out in Ghana.

The Presidential Advisor also said the government had put together a team of scientific experts to help in developing a vaccine that would be ideal for the populace, stressing that “we will one day come out with our own vaccine.”

Stronger collaboration

The Deputy Director, Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC), Dr Ahmed Jinapor, also commended WACCBIP for its work in the area of science research in the country.

He especially commended the Director of WACCBIP for his show of leadership in the heat of the pandemic, saying his strong sense of collaboration and support in fighting the pandemic was worth emulating.

He called for a strong relationship among researchers, academia and governance, saying the COVID-19 pandemic had shown that there was the need for a strong synergy among the three institutions in the country.

The Director, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Prof. Abraham Kwabena Anang, said the two research centres collaborated during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and gave an assurance that there would be more  of such collaborations in the future.

He said the two centres would continue to work together to build research capacity now and in the future.

He urged WACCBIP to continue with its good work to ensure resilience in the face of the pandemic.

A professor in Global Health Infection and Immunity, Dr Francisca Mutapi, who gave the keynote lecture on “’What does Africa-led science look like during a global pandemic,” said data currently showed that the third wave of COVID-19 was beginning to slow down but added that that could only be confirmed in the next few weeks.

Other speakers, including the President of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Science, Professor Samuel Sefa-Dedeh, and the Africa Centre of Excellence (ACE) Impact Task Team Leader of the World Bank, Ms Himdat Bayusuf, also lauded the WACCBIP team for its work in the area of science research in the country.

The Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Development of the University of Ghana, Professor Felix Ankomah Asante, who chaired the opening ceremony, called on WACCBIP to share its success story with other centres of excellence of the university.