Ghana: 3 Scientists Receive $35,000 to Research Into Vaccines to Combat Emerging Diseases

As part of Ghana's post COVID-19 recovery process, the government has awarded a $35,000 grant to three scientists to research into possible vaccines to combat emerging infectious diseases.

The grant is part of a $28.5 million facility from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to implement Post COVID-19 Skills Development and Productivity Enhancement Project (PSDPEP) over a five-year period.

Being implemented by the Social Investment Fund (SIF), a pro-poor government institution and its partners, the PSDPEP aims to contribute to Ghana's sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery in the health sector and support the restoration of livelihoods, income, employment opportunities and private sector development.

At a brief presentation ceremony in Accra on Friday, the Chief Executive Officer of the SIF, Mr Justice Amankwa-Mensah, explained that the three beneficiaries were the first batch of 20 researchers, particularly postgraduate (Ph.D. and MPhil) students expected to undertake the cutting-edge discovery.

While a medical laboratory scientist at the Ashiaman Municipal Hospital, Mrs Josephine Banini, and a lecturer at the Accra Technical University, Mr Saeed Alhassan, are researching into exploring Anti-Mycobacterium activity of selected natural plants extracts to fight multi-drug resistance, Mr Lennox Mac-Ankrah, a lecturer at the University of Health and Allied Sciences, is looking into mutations within people living with HIV on dolutegravir-based antiretroviral therapy.

"The grant is to support innovative research to develop vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics using synthetic peptides monoclonal antibodies and natural products," Mr Amankwa-Mensah, who doubles as the project coordinator of the PSDPEP indicated.

He expressed hope that the project would contribute to Ghana's health and research architecture, urging beneficiaries to take full advantage of the opportunity.

"This is a project with timelines and therefore you should work hard and be determined to complete your programmes within the set timelines - that is 2027."

Reverend Professor Kwamena Sagoe, the Project Lead of PSDPEP, announced that the second call for research grants would end on March 29, 2024.

He said the project would prioritise women, persons with special needs, and applicants who are already working in institutions, adding that an amount of $450,000 had been designated to the training and research component of the project.

"We encourage young ideas; people with brilliant ideas to apply. We want to create the platform and help you bring the ideas to support our health delivery system," he said.

Mrs Banini, a beneficiary, expressing excitement about being selected to pursue the research noted that it was high time Africa explored the efficacy and potency of its natural products to solve its health challenges.

"We want to check if the local plants we have can be an alternative source to treat tuberculosis and this I believe with other ground-breaking research, we can improve the wellbeing of our people," she stated.

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