Prof. Solomon Fiifi Ofori-Acquah Delivers Inaugural Lecture

Prof. Solomon Fiifi Ofori-Acquah, first Professor of Medical Laboratory Sciences at the University of Ghana, Founding Director of the West African Genetic Medicine Centre (WAGMC) and former Dean of the School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences, has delivered his inaugural lecture on the topic, ‘A Journey with Sickle Cell Disease, around the World and a Return Home to Help Find a Cure.’  

Presenting on the state of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) in Ghana, Prof. Ofori-Acquah highlighted the essential role public-private partnerships played in introducing Hydoxyurea to Ghana with support from the government (becoming the first country in Africa to commit to offering global standard of care for people with the Sickle Cell Disease); newborn screening and training of physicians to properly manage the disease.

Prof. Solomon Fiifi Ofori-Acquah

With these interventions, the lecturer argued that in the next 10 to 20 years, the number of surviving SCD patients will increase dramatically in the country. While noting the strides made over the last decade, in improving the state of Sickle Cell treatment in Ghana, Prof. Ofori-Acquah emphasised the need for a national programme to screen for Sickle Cell Disease.  

Students from the Brainy Bairn School, Accra, were also in attendance

He ceased the opportunity to extend appreciation to traditional leaders as well as sectoral and corporate stakeholders for the goodwill and  for integrating genetics into the healthcare system of Ghana.  He also paid glowing tribute to Emeritus Professor Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, immediate past President of the  Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana, for his vision to create a situation where sickle cell patients are properly diagnosed and provided with modern medical and psychological services. 

Prof. Fiifi Ofori-Acquah further outlined his goal of building capacity for translational genomics in Ghana to enable gene-based cures for Sickle Cell Disease in the country. He is doing this with relevant collaborators through the SickleGenomics Network of Africa, GhGenome and the West African Genetic Medicine Centre to build both human and material infrastructure to overcome the developmental challenge of human genetic disorders.  

A cross-section of guests at the Lecture

In her remarks, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, Vice-Chancellor of the University and Chair for the occasion, commended Prof. Ofori-Acquah, for demonstrating that science must benefit our communities. “I’m very proud of you. This is the kind of academic we’re expecting to be producing in our institutions”, Prof. Amfo said proudly. 

Earlier, in her opening remarks, the Registrar, Mrs. Emelia Agyei-Mensah, stated that every academic who achieves the highest rank of full Professor in the University is expected to deliver an inaugural lecture. The Inaugural lecture, she acknowledged, offers the University an opportunity to showcase and educate the general public on research work being undertaken by the University. 

Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo

There were presentations to Prof. Ofori-Acquah from the College of Health Sciences, School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences, Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, WAGMC, the 1982 Year Group of Adisadel College, and family to congratulate him on his achievement. 

Prof. Ofori-Acquah receiving a presentation from the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) 

The Ghana Dance Ensemble also graced the occasion with cultural performances as well as seperewa appellation to herald the lecturer.  

The Ghana Dance Ensemble entertaining guests with a cultural performance

In attendance were Prof. Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe, former Vice-Chancellor; Prof. Ellis Owusu-Dabo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology; Dr. Kwabena Bempah Tandoh, Deputy Director-General of Ghana Education Service; Deans and Directors as well as former University officials, representatives of the Osu Traditional Council, the Chief of the Sagnarigu Traditional area in Tamale and his entourage, members of the University community as well as the general public. 

Traditional and religious leaders were also present at the Lecture

As a prelude to Prof. Fiifi Ofori-Acquah’s Inaugural lecture, a week-long exhibition of his scholarly works was held at the Balme Library. The exhibition focused on his research interests in genomics, vascular biology, breast cancer and Sickle Cell Disease.  

Prof. Fiifi Ofori-Acquah during the opening of a week-long exhibition of his scholarly works