The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) on Thursday handed over a COVID-19 equipment and kits donated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the Ministry of Health in Accra.
Professor Kwaku Anim, the Chairman of the GAEC Board, handed over the items, which included a COVID-19 Positive control, MIC-PCR System, Eurofins Genomics, MIC-4, TaqMan Fast Virus Master Mix, Class III Biohazard Safety Cabinet, and a Class II Biological Safety Cabinet, valued at 83,000 Euros.
The GAEC also presented a laptop for the new equipment to facilitate its operation while a cheque for GHC10,000.00 (GHC5,000.00 each from the GAEC Association of Senior Members in Administration and the GAEC Research Scientists Association respectively), was presented through the MOH to the COVID-19 Fund.
Prof Benjamin J. B. Nyarko, the Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, explained that the equipment was procured through the efforts of Mr Rafael Grossi, the Director General of the IAEA, to support Ghana’s fight against the COVID-19.
He expressed the country’s gratitude to Mr Grossi and the IAEA for the support over the years, more especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the equipment would boost the country’s testing capacity of COVID-19 infections and surveillance, as it had the ability to run over 2,300 tests in a day, which would be handed over to the University of Health and Allied Sciences in the Volta Region.
Prof Nyarko said the Commission was also putting the necessary protocols in place to enable it use gamma irradiation to sanitise some of the Personal Protective Equipment used in the country to ensure their safety especially in the era of COVID-19.
“We have also produced a hand sanitizer of which samples have been sent to the Food and Drugs Authority for certification,” he said.
He indicated that the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute of GAEC was proposing to employ deep learning approach, which was a technique used in artificial intelligence, to better understand the patterns in images.
Prof Nyarko said learning how the disease manifest itself in Computed Tomography (CT) Scans or X-ray images, which could shorten the times of diagnosis as well as provide a lot of insight into the disease, was very crucial for effective management and treatment.
He said GAEC was also ready when called upon to use its expertise to set up the new equipment for the designated laboratory.
Nana Kobina Agyei Mensah, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, who received the donation, thanked the IAEA and GAEC, as well as Prof Grossi for their assistance and input towards the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
He explained that although Ghana was presently rated second highest in the African Region in terms of testing, more needed to be done, especially by expanding the number of testing facilities across the country.
Prof John Owusu Gyapong, the Vice Chancellor, University of Health and Allied Sciences, expressed appreciation to the IAEA, GAEC and the MOH for the equipment, saying its present testing equipment was too small and often led to delays in releasing results.
He said the new one would, therefore, improve testing outcomes for doctors to make quick decisions.