The University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC) says it needs GHS50m to establish a state-of the-art Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) to research into new medical treatments and devices.
The centre has now raised a little over GHS1million Ghana Cedis, in its quest to transform a large empty space at the hospital's clinical centre into an operational CTU.
Dr Kwame Anim-Boamah, Medical Director, UGMC, said at a conference in Accra on that Ghana needs a state-of-the-art in-patient CTU where trials would be performed safely to international standards.
A modern CTU, he said, would ensure that medications taken by Ghanaians for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer are suitable for the population.
He said many medications being used in Africa had the trials done in Europe or America where the genetic makeup of the trial participants was different.
"For instance, it is now clear that certain medications for hypertension do not work as well in black patients, if the trials for these medicines were done here, this situation could have been prevented," he said.
He said many pharmaceutical companies wanted to do trials in Africa but the facilities and personnel to do the trials were not available, "a reason why UGMC is positioning itself as the hub for international clinical trials. in Africa."
Dr Anim-Boamah said there were so many herbal products that could potentially cure many ailments, but the scientific trials had not been done.
He noted that a proper CTU in Ghana could do trials to international standards and help validate some of the herbal treatments.
"Many cancer treatments are now personalized to the patient's genetics, these treatments cannot come to Ghana to help our patients unless we are able to do the trials right here in Ghana, and at the moment, Ghana and many African countries are missing out on these treatments," he said.
Dr Nana Adwoa Konadu, Deputy Director, Medical and Scientific Research Centre, UGMC, said a hospital based CTU at UGMC would enable the centre to train the next generation of Ghanaian clinical trialists.
She said the COVID-19 pandemic had taught Africa the need to train and perform its own trials, stating that the hesitancy in taking up the COVID-19 vaccine was partly due to the fact that trials were not done in Ghana.
"The performance of clinical trials requires specific training and skills often not taught during the training of health personnel, unfortunately, Ghana has very few doctors and other health personnel who are trained to perform clinical trials and most of them are retired or near retirement," she said.
Dr Konadu said there was an urgent need to train more personnel, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and trial coordinators for the country.