The Centre for Plant Medicine Research (CPMR) at Mampong-Akwapim has called on government to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to establish the long overdue Institute for Emerging & Re-emerging Infectious Disease Research.
According to CPMR, depending on the challenges experienced and lessons learnt over the past one year with outbreak of the global pandemic, the country cannot afford to miss out on the opportunity offered by COVID-19 to benefit from investing in research infrastructure.
Head of Microbiology Department-CPMR, Dr. Emmanuel Boamah, stated that the country has the expertise in terms of human resource to develop end-to-end health solutions – but lacks the fundamental infrastructure support; therefore, putting in place such an institute will be a game changer.
He emphasised that when established and well-equipped, the Institute will provide capacity to study and research any disease that might break out in the future; those that will reoccur such as Ebola; and beyond that, enable the production of protective equipment, diagnostic kits, vaccines and medicines.
“We have the expertise as a nation to research and develop any type of medicine we need in this country; all we need now is financial investment to get the equipment and facilities to produce our own medicine and handle some of these infections without necessarily looking to the western world to assist us.
“If we miss this opportunity to invest in such an infrastructure, it may be a disaster for the nation – because we do not know what will happen next, as the world is experiencing different variants of the COVID-19 virus and so we may be sitting on a time-bomb waiting to explode,” he said.
He also bemoaned shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine and the struggle to procure more from the equally-challenged western world – adding that the situation would have been different if we had put in place infrastructure or had such an institute in operation as a country.
“The country is struggling to get vaccines now; why is it so when we have the expertise to produce vaccines? It is just a matter of providing the facilities, getting collaboration and support to be able to push for vaccines development. If this was done earlier, the country would not be in the situation of depending on others for COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.
He stressed that the Institute will also give priority to herbal and traditional medicine, so that the nation can have a lot more cures from plant-medicines
However, he mentioned that the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens, University of Ghana (WACCBIP), Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), KNUST, and Cape Coast University among others have research departments which if well-resourced to focus on some of these emerging infections, with time, can help the nation handle its health situation as an alternative to a specialised institute.