The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) has started a capacity-building course for laboratory technicians and other health professionals from four African countries on how to accurately diagnose infectious and non-infectious diseases.
The countries are Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with three representatives from each country.
Funded by the Japanese government, the eight-week capacity-building course has been designed to provide detailed training in modern laboratory technology to improve disease surveillance and prevention.
The training is expected to enhance healthcare delivery in the respective countries and ensure better response systems for infectious and non-infectious diseases, particularly for post-Ebola outbreak in the West African sub-region.
The Director of the institute, Professor Abraham Anang, who opened the training in Accra yesterday, underscored the critical role accurate diagnosis played in disease management and treatment and dealing with outbreaks of infectious and non-infectious diseases.
He said the world was in the era of emerging and re-emerging infectious and non-infectious diseases and, therefore, the lack of accurate diagnosis would cause recurrent outbreaks and affect the lives of many.
Prof. Anang said that was the situation of the recurrent Ebola outbreaks that claimed many lives in parts of the West African sub-region.
He explained that because Ebola was not accurately diagnosed when it emerged, it resulted in the poor response when it re-emerged and claimed so many lives.
He said one of the ways to deal with those health situations internationally was to ensure cooperation among countries and that was why the institute made sure its expertise benefited other African countries.
"One of the most important priorities of international cooperation based on human security is improvement in healthcare systems to ensure the prevention and management of various life-threatening infections,” he said.
He said securing sufficient healthcare workers and developing their abilities were important elements of such an efficient healthcare system.
Prof. Anang explained that that was why the NMIMR, with the support of the Japanese government, continued to build the capacities of health professionals, particularly laboratory technicians.
"Since the need for functional medical teams, comprising physicians and other health professionals, including laboratory technicians, is paramount for the operation of efficient and effective healthcare systems, there is an urgent need for the development of specialists in biomedical laboratory technology.
This is due to the critical role they play in the diagnosis and treatment of infections," he said.
He expressed gratitude to the Japanese government for its continued support for the health sector and the institute over decades.
The Provost of the College of Health Sciences of the University of Ghana, Prof. Patrick Ayeh-Kumi, expressed gratitude to the management of the NMIMR for its professional prowess and successes globally that had boosted the image of not just Ghana but the University of Ghana, which was currently among the global best.
He underscored the importance of accurate diagnosis to every robust and responsive healthcare system, particularly in relation to surveillance.
The Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Tsutomu Himeno, said it was rewarding for the government of Japan to witness what he described as “excellent performance and improvement at the institute over the years”.
He said Japan would continue to support the institute and other sectors of the economy and cited a recent $21-million assistance it offered Ghana for the construction of an advanced research centre for infectious diseases at the institute.
He said Japan, as a major socio-economic and cultural partner for decades, had a passion to strengthen healthcare systems in Africa.