The Government of Ghana in partnership with the Japanese government have officially commissioned an all-new ultra-modern laboratory at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.The $20.7 million Noguchi Advanced Research Laboratories is built to strengthen the regional capacity for early detection and effective response to disease outbreaks, including those emanating from highly pathogenic agents such as Ebola, HIV, H1N1 Pandemic Flu, Lassa fever and Yellow Fever.
Director of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Prof. Abraham K. Anang speaking at the grand opening of the laboratory said the institute is now well positioned to deliver on state-of-the-art technologies in biomedical research.
In his view, the advanced laboratory will strengthen the capacity of the institute as a key player in national, regional and global surveillance to prevent, detect, diagnose and monitor outbreak events caused by dangerous particles.
“By the establishment of this facility, the institute is also positioned to play a critical role as a centre of research networking and a hub for multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research that brings together biomedical and social scientists for a holistic one health approach”, he added.
According to the Director, the Advanced Research Laboratories being commissioned presents an additional resource in specialised equipment, facilities and even human talents for promoting the mission of the institute as a centre of excellence for advancing global health security.
Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo reading the speech on behalf of President Akufo-Addo said Noguchi has become a national asset for the country and his government will fully support the mandate of the institute as well as its maintenance.
Detailing how Ghana has a poor maintenance record, he bemoaned how state facilities are left unkempt and charged Noguchi and the University of Ghana to guarantee that the facility will be taken care of properly.
“If this centre is going to continue to provide the service into the future and continue to provide that cutting edge research, then we must provide the right type of maintenance to this edifice. Ghana has a very enviable reputation of poor maintenance record and we all know, we all talk about it. We see very new things opened, commissioned and you visit after three years sometimes you’re not able to recognise it. We cannot make this nature of ours apply to this building. This is a state-of-the-art edifice giving us value for money and we must maintain it”, he said on behalf of President Akufo-Addo.
Speaking at the event, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu commended the benevolence of Japan stating that the project is vital to addressing the emerging health threats of the 21st century.
He assured that the institute will ensure strict adherence to safety protocols and highest standards for biomedical research while providing a good environment for training the next generation of scientists across the sub-region.
He further admonished Noguchi to provide proper maintenance for the facility and pledged his support to make sure the facility is well kept.
“The University of Ghana pledges its full support towards the mandate of its institute and also invites the government of Ghana as a major partner to assist in the regular maintenance of this new facility to ensure that it remains relevant to the country’s health delivery system”, he said.
Maintenance is crucial; preserve the laboratory well – Japanese Ambassador
Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Tsutomu Himeno also charged management of the Noguchi Advanced Research Laboratories to maintain and preserve the facility well.
According to him, the Government of Japan takes pride in this new edifice so it will be prudent for staff of Noguchi to provide good maintenance to the laboratory.
“The quality of the work discharged by your Japanese friends can be counted on and that is very very important hallmark and we’ll like to take pride of it. Besides research, maintenance is very important particularly for this laboratory which deals with life and death issues. Good maintenance is crucial”, he noted.
The Ambassador further reiterated that the Noguchi Memorial Institute remained a symbol of the cordial and progressive relationship and partnership between Japan and Ghana. He assured Ghana of continued commitment and contribution to the peace, stability and development of the country.
The Chief Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Hirofumi Hoshi said the new laboratory will expose students and upcoming research scientists to global standard research environment with all the equipment required.
According to him, Japanese government is happy about the impact this Advanced Research Laboratories will bring to Ghanaians in the fight against infectious diseases.
Mr. Hirofumi further emphasised on the importance of the project and other similar grant aid and technical cooperation projects being implemented by JICA in Ghana.
“JICA is happy to announce that JICA and Noguchi will start a new technical cooperation project this year to further strengthen safety and quality management capacity of the institute”, he said.
About Noguchi Advanced Research Laboratories
In 2016, the Government of Japan approved a Grant Aid of over two billion Japanese Yen in support of the construction of the Advanced Research Laboratories for Infectious Diseases at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research of the University of Ghana and supply of research equipment for the laboratories.
The decision to establish the Advanced Research Laboratories for Infectious Diseases at Noguchi was prompted by the need to strengthen the capacity of the institute to enable t function effectively as a leading biomedical research institution in the West Africa sub-region, in the light of increasing infectious disease outbreaks.
Global partners at The Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) Conference in Nairobi, Kenya agreed that the project should be undertaken to build resilience to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in Africa and beyond.
Among other things, the Advanced Research Laboratories will enable the institute to function effectively as a regional reference biomedical research institute for West Africa and will ensure strict adherence to safety protocols and highest standards for biomedical research while providing a good environment for training the next generation of scientists.
Thus the laboratory will strengthen the institute’s capacity for tackling the biomedical research and training needs of Ghana and the West African sub-region.