By Joyce Danso, GNA
Accra June 28, GNA - A Molecular laboratory, which would rapidly detect pathogens such as; Ebola, Yellow Fever and Lassa Fever in the country has been commissioned at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra on Thursday.
The state of the art laboratory which is expected to boost advanced medical research capability of the Ghana Armed Forces would also complement the work of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research one of the leading laboratories in the country.
This means that some confirmatory tests and investigations which were conducted at Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and sometimes sent outside would be analysed at the 37 Military Hospital’s Molecular laboratory. Results could be received within 24 hours.
The laboratory is expected to improve the Ghana Armed Forces to respond timely to outbreaks and support national public health, was funded by the United States Department of Defence (US DOD).
Lieutenant General Obed Boamah Akwa, Chief of the Defence Staff, Ghana Armed Forces, said scientific research and development had been something that institutions strived for and the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) has therefore placed much emphasis on research to develop.
Lt Gen Akwa recounted that over the years, GAF also established a number of research projects on social and health issues in order to improve the services it rendered to its clients
According to him, findings from those research projects had been used to formulate military and national policies, adding that the objective of establishing a Force Health Protection had been achieved through surveillance and research.
“Protecting our troops from sickness and diseases, both locally and abroad achieved through proper monitoring and diagnosis of emerging and prevailing diseases in various locations.
As part of the national and global efforts to control sickness and disease, the hospital research and the Naval Medical Research Unit- 3 which dates back to 2007 during the outbreak of the Avian Influenza pandemic has largely been fruitful.”
Lt General Akwa commended the hospital and Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU-3) collaboration which also contributed to the control and containment of the HINI pandemic.
He was elated that the Molecular laboratory of the hospital would curb sending of various confirmatory tests outside the country noting that the personnel, who would man the laboratory had been trained in molecular techniques, biochemical analysis, malaria diagnostic and haematology.
Mr Robert Jackson, United States Ambassador, who jointly cut the tape of laboratory with Lt General Akwa commended Ghana for undertaking leadership responsibility by providing personnel to assist security and health issues.
Mr Jackson said the laboratory was going to monitor, detect and study the re-emergence of some diseases that posed threats to human race through collaboration between Ghana, US and the West Africa Sub region.
Commander Edward Owusu Nyarko, Officer in Charge of Public Health, 37 Military Hospital, noted that the Ghana Armed Forces Medical Services had engaged the NAMRU-3 with joint field visits as well as expanded surveillance on Sexually Transmitted infection, Acute Febrile illness and Influenza like illness.
Commander Nyarko said the Molecular Laboratory was conceived in 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa when Ghanaian troops had been deployed to Liberia, which was one of the affected countries.
“We recognise the need to rapidly upgrade our detection and diagnostic capability to meet the challenge of emerging and re-emerging pathogens. This improved diagnostic would serve and boost our surveillance activities as we seek to improve Force health protection intervention for personnel of GAF and the Ministry of Defence.”
According to Commander Nyarko, the over 50 personnel of the GAF personnel and civilian employees had received quality training in tropical medicine, advanced diagnostics, research ethics, which boosted the 37 Military Hospital’s role of National Disaster and emergencies.
He said the hospital is looking forward to further collaboration with US. DOD, NAMRU-3, the Joint West Africa Research Group and other partners to advance a healthier world and disease free sub region.
The Ghana Armed Forces and U.S DOD and NAMRU-3 gave out plaques in appreciation of each other’s work.