The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research is a semi-autonomous institute of the University of Ghana. Founded in 1979, the Institute is the result of joint efforts by Professor C. O. Easmon, Dean of the University of Ghana Medical School, Professor Kenji Honda of the Fukushima Medical School in Japan, and the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA). The original facilities of NMIMR were built with an aid grant from the Government of Japan as a gift to the people and Government of Ghana in memory of the renowned Japanese medical scientist Dr. Hideyo Noguchi.
The mandates of the Institute are to (1) conduct research into the major communicable and non-communicable diseases of the tropics, (2) provide training opportunities in medical research for undergraduates and postgraduate students in tertiary institutions and (3) provide high end laboratory diagnostic and monitoring services in support of public health programmes.
Since inception, the Institute has been dedicated to becoming a centre of excellence for biomedical research into disease of public health importance, especially in Ghana. An early example of activities at the local level is from the early 1980’s. To test the effect of the provision of health services on infant and child mortality in areas with little or no health infrastructure, the Epidemiology Department set up field stations in the Gomoa villages of Fetteh, Onyadze, Otsew-Jukwa and Mprumem in the Central Region of Ghana. The Department introduced childhood immunization, antenatal services, treatment of minor illnesses, and with the help of “local change agents” (residents), provided basic sanitation to the communities. The local change agents were trained to provide child welfare services, and helped run the regular clinics held in the villages. During the period 1984-1988, infant mortality reduced from about 140 per 1000 live births to 47 per 1000. The child mortality rate also fell from 120 per 1000 to below 50 per 1000. The clinic at Gomoa Onyadze was built through joint efforts of the Department, the local community, and JICA. After concluding the research, the Department continued to support monthly child welfare and antenatal clinics in Gomoa Fetteh.
Through the decades, the list of strong financial and technical supporters and research collaborators of the Institute has grown long. It now includes government agencies, universities, institutes, and laboratories both public and private in Belgium, Denmark, France, Japan, Kenya, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, the UK, the USA, and ten of the West African nations. The Institute has extended its sphere of activity in Africa through its training programs, and mass drug administration programs. The Institute continues to participate in major health initiatives and networks such as Roll Back Malaria, the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM), the Gates Foundation projects, the African Malaria Network Trust (AMANET), the Afro Immunoassay Network, the African Rotavirus Surveillance Network, and numerous World Health Organization (WHO) projects. For example, staffs of other universities and research centres from Burkina Faso and Togo have been trained on the use of the technique of growing malaria parasites in culture, a technique developed by the Institute.