Dr Patrick Odum Ansah, the Acting Director of the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC) in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality of the Upper East Region says the products of the Center justify its existence for the past 30years.
“We are here to stay, there is a lot we have done and there is a lot more we are doing. Our products justify our existence,” he told journalists from the African Media and Malaria Research Network on a field trip to the Center.
Dr Ansah described the NHRC as a great asset to the nation, saying, “In moving the health of the country forward, we must all as a country put our hands together and move the Center forward. The world is looking at us and supports us all the time.”
He said the Center’s new push in vaccine trials, especially the Sputnik Light Vaccine and the one by Sanofi Pasteur, which was perfectly ongoing was an indication that the Center could help in President Akufo-Addo’s vision of Ghana producing its own vaccines.
He called for support from stakeholders in the health sector, especially the Ministry of Health and the Government of Ghana to help the Center maintain what professionals in the NHRC had developed over the years.
Dr Ansah said the NHRC and the Kintampo Health Research Center (KHRC) were selected in Ghana to conduct research into the malaria vaccine that was tried in the public health system and also under strict research conditions.
He said as part of the trial, the Center followed up to be sure that none of the children who received the malaria vaccine developed the disease and died, or disappeared from the radial of detection, “We are having a demographic system where every single person is followed up.”
Dr Ansah said a total of 4,000 children were recruited in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality for the vaccine and juxtaposed to another 4,000 recruited in the Builsa North and South Districts who had not received the vaccine.
He said their counterpart, the KHRC also recruited 6,000 children each in their intervention and non-intervention areas, saying, a total of 10,000 children in Ghana were under surveillance for the malaria vaccine trial.
He explained that 10,000 were under vaccination and 10,000 not vaccinated while 20,000 were given to Kenya and Malawi, “We have done this for the past three years
“Out of 10,000 children followed, we have not seen any 14 diseases yet. We are looking at how the children will die, how they will get sick, so we compare with the non-intervention areas. All these have gone on for two years, and the data so far shows the vaccine is very safe.”
When the journalists visited the Navrongo Health Center to interact with parents whose children received the vaccine, Madam Jennifer Affipungu, mother of two-year Seirra Ajongba Kwode said the vaccine was introduced to her daughter within a period of about nine months, but she reacted to the last doses with high temperature which subsequently subsided with paracetamol suppository.
The mother of three, said since her three children received the vaccine, they have not had malaria, “So, I will say the vaccine is good,” she added.