WACCBIP Researchers Train Biomedical Scientists from NCHS
Researchers from the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) have trained biomedical scientists from the National Catholic Health Centre (NCHS) at the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology of the University of Ghana. The workshop, which was held from January 29, 2018 to February 2, 2018, was centered on achieving excellence in healthcare through advanced level training of biomedical laboratory scientists in Ghana.
The week-long workshop, which was organised in partnership with the NCHS, was also intended to improve the skills and techniques of 25 biomedical laboratory scientists working in the 36 hospitals and 78 clinics under NCHS across the country.
WACCBIP collaborated with the NCHS as part of its efforts to improve the diagnosis, prevention, and control of infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa by providing research training at advanced level.
Highlighting the importance of empowering and training biomedical scientists in her opening remarks, Prof. Matilda Steiner Asiedu, Dean for School of Biological Science, acknowledged the collaboration between WACCBIP and the NCHS as a remarkable partnership that reflects the excellent and in-depth commitment of both parties in providing quality healthcare.
“This training has come at an important time in our history and development as a country. At the top of the Sustainable Development Goal is alleviation of poverty and the second one is alleviation of hunger,” Prof. Asiedu said. “The second one [SDG] fits in well with this workshop since we cannot alleviate hunger and poverty when our people are sick and lack proper and timely diagnosis or world-class equipment to treat them.”
She was optimistic that topics taught during the workshop will translate into achieving quality healthcare delivery in their communities. She further congratulated WACCBIP for the initiative and encouraged participants to make the most out of the expertise from WACCBIP.
Mr. George Adjei, the Director for the NCHS, spoke about the commitment of the NCHS to contribute to national health priorities. He acknowledged the role played by Dr. Patrick Arthur, the Head of Training and Research at WACCBIP, in initiating the collaboration. He was expectant that the workshop would impact each participant to harness their benefits beyond the workshop, since major workshops like this rarely takes place.
“This is a very important workshop for the NCHS. Our staff have not had any major training for some years now. We are happy that you are going to be learning at the feet of great scientists,” Mr. Asiedu said. “Our facilities are located in every part of the country; in rural and deprived areas. You have been selected for this workshop, which means you have a rare opportunity to learn. Don’t compromise on care especially with the issues of maternal care in this country,” he said.
He urged participants to actively participate in both the theoretical and practical activities during the workshop and thanked WACCBIP’s team of scientist for the workshop.
Welcoming the partnership and subsequent workshops with the NCHS, Reverend Father Wisdom Larweh, Deputy Secretary-General at the National Catholic Secretariat (NCS), on behalf of the Ghana Catholic Bishop Conference, was thankful that efforts were being made to build capacity for biomedical scientists, who are the pivot of the healthcare system in Ghana.
“I convey greetings from the Ghana Catholic Bishop Conference to WACCBIP and the Department for accepting our biomedical scientists. Research drives not only academics but also in the area of development. So, being here for such a workshop is a privilege,” he said.
He was also happy with the theme of the workshop and added that the caliber of scientists available at WACCBIP with varied expertise in scientific research and technology will improve participants’ skills in the understanding, control, and management of infectious diseases.
“The theme of the workshop demonstrates that biomedicine has developed in an extraordinary way, especially in our time with the enormous growth in technology and science. This has helped in experimentation,” Reverend Father Larweh said. “There has been great improvement in genetics, molecular, as well as in transplants and neurological sciences. We, hereby, express our gratitude to WACCBIP, who generously have dedicated their energy to the wellbeing of this workshop and to encourage knowledge sharing.”
Prof. Gordon Awandare, Director of WACCBIP, expressed his pride in the Centre’s association with the workshop, particularly as the Centre aims to mobilise young people in cutting-edge scientific research and to drive innovation. He said this during his keynote lecture and presentation on WACCBIP at the workshop.
“We are mobilizing young people to have the best and the brightest students. To be given the opportunity to come here is an honor because it is very competitive to come here. We drive innovation and we want the best,” he said.
He reiterated WACCBIP commitment to significant initiatives since its establishment in 2014, with support from the World Bank and the Wellcome Trust Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) Africa programme. This, he said, is strengthening capacity for training scientists within the African continent.
“So far we have trained 150 students and we have increased in numbers. We have committed $5 million in our students. This $5 million is to support the vision that we are promoting here,” Prof. Awandare said. “We also have a good representation of females. We believe that when you give females the opportunity, they always excel.”
He added that the training workshop targeting professionals in the health delivery sector is to improve their knowledge of disease pathogenesis and modern methods of diagnosis and treatment.
“The ultimate goal is to reach research innovation with short courses like this. We hope to come out with new methods of fighting diseases with vaccines, drugs, and the necessary support to drive innovation,” he said. “There are pathogens that we have identified here in Ghana that we didn’t know existed and one of the things we do is to spend lots of money to fight diseases. In addition, we are adding more space.”
He also called on the private sector and industries to come on board and provide funding for students and research. This, he said, will help empower students and solve the issue of unemployment.
He shared some challenges of doing scientific research in Africa especially in Ghana. He called on the government of Ghana to implement the National Research Fund like in Kenya, South Africa, and Rwanda, whose governments seek to promote and support research through funding, human resource development, and the provision of the necessary research facilities.
“In Africa and Ghana, in particular, it is a pain to order for reagents, and procurement processes for science equipment are very tedious. These are the issues we need to solve as a nation,” Prof. Awandare said. “This year’s budget has no research fund, but we will be looking again next year. We hope that the government will commit some of our national resources to support students to come and have their master’s and PhD, the facilities are already in place.”
Participants were guided on advanced and effective strategies in diagnostics and healthcare, diversity and transmission of pathogens, in-depth study of RT-PCR methods and molecular tools, transmission and detection of protozoan infections, in-depth study of flow cytometry methods, and professional development in grant writing.
Aside from WACCBIP faculty, lectures were facilitated by faculty of the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (BCMB), and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR).
Participating lead faculty were Prof. Gordon Awandare, Dr. Patrick Kobina Arthur, Dr. Lydia Mosi, Dr. Linda Amoah, Dr. Kwadwo Asamoah Kusi, Dr. Osbourne Quaye, Dr. Michael Ofori, Dr. Beverly Egyir, Rev. Dr. WSK Gbewonyo, and Dr. Jewelna Akorli.
Mr. Daniel Taylor, a participant from the St. Martins Catholic Hospital Agroyesum in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region, was full of praise for the facilitators and expressed his gratitude to WACCBIP.