The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, has underscored the critical importance of scientists to address the myriad of challenges in the country, especially, the COVID-19 pandemic.
He has, therefore, tasked scientists in the country to use their expertise to help transform the country into a vaccine manufacturing hub on the continent as political commitment alone was not enough.
“The role of scientists will be essential in ensuring that Ghana indeed becomes a vaccine manufacturing country,” Dr Kuma-Aboagye said in his keynote address at the 32nd Biennial Conference of the Ghana Science Association.
The conference, on the theme: “Mitigating COVID-19 pandemic: The quest for scientific and technological innovations,” brought scientists from the various universities and science-based organisations to discuss scientific and technological innovative approaches towards the mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the end of the conference, the Ghana Science Association will release a communique to the government, policy makers and the general public.
The conference will also be used to link recognised platforms within the scientific community for regular interactions between scientists, industrial players as well as policy makers to ensure the uptake of innovations for the country.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said the many successes chalked up by science in the current COVID-19 pandemic provided evidence that the role of science could not be underestimated.
“The record time taken to produce vaccines shows how much science has advanced and continues to contribute to sustaining humanity and the Presidential Vaccine Manufacturing Committee includes distinguished scientists such as Prof. William Ampofo, who has for decades played a key role in public health services for viral infections in Ghana,” he said.
The Director-General of the GHS further called on the scientific community to strengthen the concept of community engagement and risk communication with the general public.
He also urged the Ghana Science Association to undertake research and lead in advocacy for reducing air pollution as well as find innovative ways of restoring water bodies to their desirable state in addition to researching into sustainable mining within the Ghanaian context.
The association, he said, was a critical stakeholder in the country’s development, calling on it not to only focus on COVID-19, but move beyond it to support the total development of the country.
For his part, the President of the association, Professor William Gariba Akwanwariwiak, said the three-day biennial conference sought to bring to bear the effort and innovative technological advances of the scientific community in curtailing the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic
He pointed out that scientists in the country had risen to the challenge and brought about some innovations such as a large-scale surveillance and testing of COVID-19 cases among the populace, developing diagnostic tests, zero-surveillance of the general population, sequencing variants of SARS-CoV-2 in the country to advise vaccine choices as well as developing low cost ventilators towards a self-reliant Ghana.