8th NMIMR Annual Research Meeting Provides Vital Platform for Researchers and Health Policy Makers

The 2023 edition of the Annual Research Meeting (ARM 2023) organised by the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), the 8th in the series, has served as a crucial platform for collaboration and knowledge exchange among young researchers, senior fellows, health policymakers, practitioners, governmental and non-governmental organisations and community health practitioners.

Held under the theme "Strengthening Research Capacity to Mitigate Current and Future Disease Threats: Bridging the Research-Policy Divide," the research meeting placed a spotlight on enhancing research capabilities in health and facilitated discussions on bridging the prevailing gaps in health research.

Commencing with a full day dedicated to a poster presentation session, several researchers had the opportunity to share with participants findings of their research on relevant health topics. The day was also opened to the public with the aim of providing an opportunity for selected schools to engage with the Institute and its works fostering, a deeper understanding of its work and operations.

At the plenary initiatives and part of the research meeting, Prof. Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, the Director of NMIMR, highlighted the Institute's three primary objectives, which included, conducting research on public health diseases, providing specialised diagnostic support for global health initiatives and nurturing the next generation of scientists through postgraduate training in allied health professions across the sub-region. She underlined the need for more African leadership in clinical trials and biomedical research.

Prof. Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, Director of NMIMR.

She also revealed that “since 2019, NMIMR has trained over 3,000 individuals, including 54 PhD candidates and 38 post-doctoral scholars from African nations.” The Director affirmed the alignment of the 2023 Annual Research Meeting with the African Union’s vision 2040 for Africa to be self-sufficient in terms of vaccine and tool development in order to respond appropriately to health threats.

She acknowledged the Institute’s leadership role as an active stakeholder in several global health interventions as was exemplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prof. Yeboah-Manu also announced that the Institute will mark its 44th year of operation, while expressing gratitude to partners, sponsors, previous directors, staff, and contributors for their support.

In a speech read on her behalf by the Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Prof. Julius Fobil, Vice-Chancellor Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, extolled the consistent support the NMIMR has provided for the Ghanaian health system, the West African sub-region, as well as the entire continent in areas of disease surveillance, diagnosis and research training.

Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Prof. Julius Fobil.

Highlighting the relevance of the research meeting, Prof. Amfo stated “As the entire world prepares for future pandemics and conducts research that will aid the rapid development of interventions against emerging and re-emerging infectious and non-communicable diseases, building the required capacity in terms of human resources and the relevant infrastructure are crucial.” She charged the global community to work to ensure the world is not caught unawares again as in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The focus of the ARM 2023, she added, aligned with the vision of the University and her vision as Vice-Chancellor to reinvigorate research and build capacity that will ensure the sustainable development of the University. While pledging the support of the University, the Vice-Chancellor called for governmental support to sustain the works of the Institute.

Guest of Honour at the plenary session and Ghana’s Minister for Education, Hon. Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, commended the Japanese government for funding the Institute's research

division. He stressed the transformative role of research in benefiting humanity and assured government support through research grants to further enhance the quality of life for Ghanaians.

Guest of Honour at the plenary session and Ghana’s Minister for Education, Hon. Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum

The Minister highlighted ongoing initiatives, including the construction of updated junior high schools nationwide and a notable school complex project in the Ashanti Region, aimed at improving educational standards. He emphasised that these initiatives would enhance learning activities and provide modern facilities like computer and science laboratories.

Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Mochizuki Hisanobu, commended the NMIMR for its continuous contributions to advancing research in Ghana and Africa, recognising its significant impact on health policies and initiatives across the continent. He emphasised the vital role of the research community in developing groundbreaking initiatives to address healthcare gaps and various health challenges.

Expressing Japan's dedication to supporting Africa, Ambassador Mochizuki accentuated the importance of aligning research with policy frameworks for autonomous and self-sufficient health interventions, fostering a cooperative mindset to tackle global health challenges through collaborative efforts and partnerships between the Japanese Embassy, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.

Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Mochizuki Hisanobu.

Speaking on behalf of Japan International Cooperation Agency - Ghana, a key partner of the Institute, Chief Representative Dr. Suzuki Momobo reiterated the relevance of this year's theme in the post-COVID-19 era. She advocated for Africa's self-reliance through the development of diagnostic tools, procedures, and vaccinations to combat disease outbreaks effectively and pledged the continuous support of JICA.

WHO Country Representative, Prof. Francis Kasolo, in remarks read on his behalf, underscored the intersection of public policy and scientific research in addressing global health challenges. He called attention to collaboration in sharing best practices, data, and research findings to promote effective interventions.

In closing, Prof. Julius N. Fobil, Provost of the College of Health Sciences, who chaired the plenary session on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, reiterated the University's commitment to contributing to various facets of national development through research. He extended gratitude to all stakeholders for their support and expressed hope of further support from the government and other stakeholders towards the work of the Institute.

The ARM 2023 featured experts presenting cutting-edge research findings and concluded with a panel discussion on capacity building for health-related research and a debate on the motion "Clinical trials are not needed in Africa to mitigate current and future disease threats," providing diverse perspectives on clinical trials in Africa.