The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) has embarked on an initiative to eliminate yellow fever from Africa.
It involves the establishment of a one million dollar endowment fund for the advancement of biomedical research at the institute.
It also includes the setting up of a consultative group known as the Noguchi International Consultative Initiative for Yellow Fever Eradication, which is to be inaugurated at the climax of the institute’s 40th anniversary celebration on November 26, 2019.
At the launch of the 40th anniversary in Accra on Monday, the Director of the institute, Professor Abraham Kwabena Anang, said the setting up of the consultative group formed part of the year-long activities preceding the anniversary celebration.
He explained that the group, when set up, would facilitate the necessary processes and requirements such as timeliness, funding, road map for the control and eventual elimination of the mosquito-borne viral hemorrhagic disease to achieve its objective.
“The group will determine the research needs to engage in, the eradication processes, particularly identification and elimination of disease reservoirs, elimination and management of disease vectors, among others,” he said.
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The director also stated that the group would champion advocacy and consensus building campaigns through global partnerships for the control and eventual eradication of yellow fever.
Throwing more light on why the institute chose to prioritise the eradication of yellow fever, Prof. Anang said it would facilitate the realisation of the dream of the Japanese scientist, Dr Hideyo Noguchi, who died of yellow fever in Ghana while carrying out a similar vision during an outbreak of the disease in 1920.
He recalled that the institute was built by the Government of Japan in 1979 and donated to Ghana in honour of Dr Noguchi to boost healthcare delivery in West Africa.
Prof. Anang further noted that although the disease had been subjected to partial control for decades, there was enough evidence that it was on the rise globally with recent reports of an outbreak in some West African countries, including Nigeria.
“Since its establishment, the institute has gained global recognition as a leading biomedical research institute in Africa that was building capacity for the prevention and control of endemic diseases, as well as emerging and re-emerging diseases in Ghana and the West African sub-region,” he said.
The Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Tsutomu Himeno, said it was rewarding for the Government of Japan to witness what he described as excellent performance and improvements at the institute over the years.
He said Japan would continue to support the institute and other sectors of the country’s economy and cited a recent assistance for the construction of an advanced research centre for infectious diseases at a cost of $21 million.
The Provost of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Ghana, Professor Patrick Ayeh-Kumi, underscored the need for stakeholders to allow the history of the institute to drive them into achieving excellence in the discharge of their responsibilities.
He gave an assurance that the University of Ghana, which houses the institute, would continue to create an enabling environment to ensure quality research work at the institute.