GHANA – Ghanaian Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) has received three Genomic sequencing equipment from the Africa Centre for Diseases Control (Africa CDC) to track disease variants to assist in making well-informed decisions concerning public health matters.
The genomic surveillance will be used to investigate outbreaks to better understand the transmission, validate diagnostics and develop therapeutics as well as boost the country’s capacity to detect SARS-CoV-2 variants and other pathogens of public health significance.
The Africa CDC donated the Mini Iron, Hybrid Iron, Nextseq 2000 and reagents sequencing machines as well as technical support to enhance the performance of the Genomic surveillance laboratory network at the Institute.
The donation is part of the Africa CDC Pathogen Genomics Initiative which seeks to support institutions in the continental laboratory network for SARS-Cov2 in an endeavor to adopt best practices and techniques to do sequencing locally.
Without genomic surveillance, countries are forced to rely on other health agencies to share information on pathogens and variants, potentially slowing or impeding the process of identifying risks, issuing public health advice and developing vaccines.
NMIMR Director Professor Dorothy Yeboah-Manu acknowledged that the genomic machines would give the Institute the capacity to sequence 2000 genomes in a week especially for the COVID viruses during the ongoing pandemic.
She said that the donation will enable the institute to improve research on emerging disease-causing organisms in the country and on the West Africa sub-region for prompt action by stakeholders.
Prof Yeboah-Manu explained that the Africa CDC has aided all the genomic sequencing at Noguchi in the fight against the widespread coronavirus including building the institute’s capacity to carry out sequencing for Ghana, Togo, Benin, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
“NMIMR has also been able to facilitate training of seven Economic Community of West African States countries with funding from the World Health Organization with an aim to further build capacity within the West Africa continent instead of relying on other countries for genomic surveillance,” she added.
The donated equipment’s capacities will be crucial in observing viruses at a molecular level and see whether the vaccines, diagnostics and responses are working.
“It is an essential component of the overall pandemic response and this capacity will also improve the research and development of new vaccines, new diagnostics for other pathogens,” she explained.
She further said that the equipment not only detects emerging variants but also helps to determine the potency of authorized vaccines to protect the populace against the SARS-COV-2 virus.