Kintampo Health Research Centre launches 25th Anniversary

By
Christabel Addo, GNA

Accra, May 12, GNA – The 25th Anniversary
celebrations of the Kintampo Health Research Centre (KHRC) has been launched in
Accra, with a call for increased efforts to sustain the gains made by the
institution over the years.

The occasion also saw the launch of a
Bi-annual lecture series in honour of the late Dr Paul Arthur, who was the
Centre’s first Director when it was, established in 1994 under the Kintampo
Vitamin ‘A’ Project.

Dr Anarfi Asamoah-Baah, a Former Deputy
Director-General, WHO, who delivered the keynote address on the theme:
“Sustaining 25 years of Excellence in Health Research: Impacting Communities,
Shaping Health Policy and Practice,” congratulated the KHRC for its
achievements and sustained contributions to public health research in Ghana
over the years, admitting that the Centre had been a great success.

He also acknowledged the impact and
influence of the Centre in terms of addressing the health needs of populations
both locally and internationally through research, and providing employment
opportunities for about 5,000 people in the community in which it was located.

He cited the KHRC’s key roles in numerous
health researches that had informed policy decisions, especially the recent
development of the new malaria vaccine which was currently being introduced
into routine immunization in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda.

Dr Asamoah-Baah however stated that the road
into the future for research was going to be challenging, because it would be
crowded with more brains, become multidisciplinary, with high public
expectations calling for quick outcomes, and there was lack of trust in public
institutions with the presently widespread social media misinformation threats
against health research outcomes.

“These may result in low population risks,
as people would no longer accept to be used as guinea pigs,” he said.

He said sustaining the gains would require
actions including improving existing research infrastructure and increasing the
number of centres to improve empirical data, strengthening the availability of
funding for research, improving collaboration with academia, and enhancing the
capacity building of research staff on sustained basis.

Dr Asamoah-Baah further suggested the urgent
need to change the low perception culture about research by encouraging
analytical thinking among children especially from the primary school level in
order to generate their interests in the subject as early as possible.

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director-General
of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), admitted that there was the need to do
things differently if Ghana was to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

He challenged the KHRC to research further
into health issues such as the reasons for the low tuberculosis detection rates,
and the struggles with achieving the Prevention of Mother-to-Child-Transmission
of HIV (PMTCT), as well as why anemia was still high among pregnant women. 

He affirmed the commitment of his outfit
towards the activities of the Centre and noted that the GHS will support it
with the needed human resource capacity, for effective delivery of its mandate
and services.

Dr Kwaku Poku Asante, the Director of the
Kintampo Health Research Centre, stated that the Centre had come a long way
from leveraging on a Vitamin ‘A’ project, to an establishment that envisioned
to become a Centre of excellence that conduct high quality research to shape
local and international health policy, programmes and practices.  

He gave a list of the activities and
achievements of the Centre some being it’s supporting with the National Malaria
Control Programme to advocate for testing for malaria before treatment, as well
as its involvement in the testing for the safety and efficacy of the first
malaria vaccine among other research breakthroughs for emerging
Non-Communicable Diseases.

However the Centre was faced with funding
challenges for research, stating that currently 70 per cent of its finances
were from donor sources which was risky for Ghana, and urged the government and
corporate organisations to urgently address the issue by mobilizing domestic
resources to solve the local health needs of the country.

He advocated for dual appointment within the
GHS to ensure academic career progression.

Mr Alexander Abban, the Deputy Minister of
Health, stressed that Ghana’s scientists were commended internationally and “we
must be grateful to them,” and urged the KHRC to sell itself for the whole
world to acknowledge their contributions to public health.

He however commented about the slow
translation of research outcomes into actions and said the Ministry was working
to address the disconnection to help improve the lives of Ghanaians, and
further promised to address the issue of research funding to institutions.

Some solidarity messages were also delivered
by institutions including the Ministry of Health, WHO, and the Ghana Standards
Authority.

Dr Owen Laws Kaluwa, the WHO Country
Representative, said health research was very critical in addressing the needs
of people and advocated for increased collaboration with other health partners,
while ensuring the increased utilization of funding for home grown research for
quality outcomes.

He said the anniversary had come at a time
when Ghana and two other African countries were implementing the new malaria
vaccine and that the country should be proud of this achievement since its pool
of scientists contributed to this global breakthrough, and called for unity in
saving lives.

Professor Seth Owusu-Agyei, who succeeded Dr
Arthur after his demise in 2002 as the Center’s new Director till 2017, praised
his predecessor for his selfless leadership role and the great foundation laid,
and said the solid grounding would be sustained.

Dr Alex Dodoo, also commended the KHRC for
its cordial relationship with the GSA over the years especially in the
calibration of all its equipment on regular basis to ensure authentic data and
research outcomes.

GNA

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