The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Thursday opened a two-day international scientific research conference to highlight achievements, challenges and future direction of research at the Institute.
The conference, organised to climax the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Institute, was also to showcase scientific presentations from world renowned researchers from the Institute, top researchers from major health related institutions across Ghana, and other international research institutions.
The theme for the conference is “Meeting Global Health challenges: 40 years of innovative research at Noguchi”.
The Institute, which is under the College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, was established in 1979 to honour Dr Hideyo Noguchi, the renowned Japanese scientist, who died in Ghana in 1928 while researching to help curb a devastating Yellow Fever epidemic in West Africa.
Since its establishment, the Institute, has been conducting research into both infectious and non-infectious diseases, build capacity of the next generation of scientists and health professionals and provide specialised diagnosis and mentoring services and intervention tools in support of public health in Ghana.
Speaking at the conference, Professor Abraham Kwabena Anang, Director, NMIMR, said the Institute had delivered effectively on its mandate and made significant strides, including the diagnosing of the first HIV and AIDS case in Ghana.
It also led in the building of critical capacity of health professionals in the country and in West Africa to diagnose and manage the disease.
The NMIMR, had also contributed to the advancing of Rotavirus diarrhoeal disease research and vaccination, established the tuberculosis laboratory testing network in Ghana and detection and monitoring of MDR/XDR tuberculosis.
More recently, the Institute is leading in providing leadership in the establishment of the capacity for detection of environmental Polio and case findings of the disease in post eradication Ghana.
It also contributed to critical management and control of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa, while engaging in tremendous capacity building within the past 10 years, including the training of 218 PhDs students, 456 masters, 591 undergraduates, 724 interns and 440 National Service personnel as well as the training of many postdoctoral Fellows.
“All these achievements have been possible because of the support of various stakeholders, with clear contributions from various individuals, groups and organisations including partners, collaborators and funders, who deserve commendation indeed”, Prof Anang said.
He said such achievements had been attained through teamwork and an enabling environment that aided research excellence, and made possible by the government, various ministries including the Ministries of Education, Health, Finance and Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.
On the journey into the future, Prof Anang said the Institute had identified the strength in innovative strategic partnerships by meeting the SDGs Goal 17, leveraging on partnerships to benefit from new ideas, initiative and innovation, to drive into the future.
This, he said, would set the Institute aside as “a true leader in the world of biomedical research for the attainment of global health security”.
Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), commended the NMIMR for it lead role in research and diagnoses of diseases, and emphasized the importance of research to the socio-economic development of any society.
He said “our survival and development as a people will depend on our ability to understand, interpret, select, adapt, use, transmit, diffuse, produce and commercialise scientific and technological knowledge; and research is the key that will unlock this potential”.
He announced that the Environment Ministry had initiated the process of setting up a High-Performance Computing Centre in Ghana, a facility that is an off shoot of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) research collaboration project with partners in South Africa.
Once installed, the equipment would provide computing capacity research databases and information could be shared among researchers, research institutions and researchers’ fund.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng called for the deepening of collaborations among government, public and private research institutions, academia and private sector to foster knowledge exchange, technology transfer and transformation of research outputs into commercial products and services.
“Such arrangement will facilitate the creation of industries and jobs, grow the economy and quicken the pace of Ghana’s socio-economic development.”