Research Fellow at the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR), Dr. Augustina Sylverken, wants Ghanaian medical practitioners to strive to maintain effective collaboration in their duties towards the possible establishment of COVID-19 vaccine hub in the country.
Speaking on Campus Exclusive on Monday, May 24, 2021, Dr. Sylverken was confident that Ghana can only achieve its dream of manufacturing local vaccines if health professionals form partnerships to fight for a collective purpose.
A statement signed by the Acting Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin, stated that the decision to select Ghana as the possible manufacturing hub of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa by the European Union followed initiatives being taken by the government towards domestic production of vaccines.
The KNUST Senior Lecturer Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology further encouraged her colleagues to also tap into the expertise and resources of their western counterparts.
“We need to collaborate with them, let’s form partnerships…let’s, at least, hang in with the European Union, let’s establish the system, let’s build the infrastructure, let’s build the human capacity and workforce and at a point in time, we would realize that [it is time to get off them].
“But look, once you don’t have all the resources this is what you can do; let’s tap into their resources and expertise…then I’m sure Ghana will be in a very good position to start the production of vaccines from local agents,” she opined.
Dr. Sylverken noted that “contacts have been made to some of the universities and committees have been set,” adding that “some have already sent their reports to the bigger committee” which is being chaired by Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng.
She was hopeful that the establishment of the COVID-19 vaccine hub in Ghana will bring about many economic and financial benefits to the country.
“One, we’ll be financially resourced, and once these vaccines are manufactured and produced, we will also sell them out, look at the human capacities that would be built, the financial resource, the attraction of investors, both local and international ones…
“So I think that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and I’m sure for some of our colleagues who are still living outside but have built themselves in vaccine production will come back home to help establish this.”
Identification of local herbs
She revealed that as part of efforts towards the production of a local vaccine, a local herb has been identified.
According to her, a group of scientists have already begun research on the herb to identify active ingredients against COVID-19.
“I’m sure once we’re through, definitely, our results and our findings would be known to the general public; all we need is your support. The future doesn’t look bleak, it looks bright,” Dr. Sylverken added.
Need for public education to be intensified
“It is important education is stepped up and we know that in-country, education is ongoing. People have collated, and people are still collating some information on vaccine acceptability,” she said.
Dr. Sylverken continued:
“Once we have such information, it becomes very important for us to look at the recommendations; if it’s about educating the general populace, then we need to go in and do the education.”
Meanwhile, she is calling on the citizenry to keep adhering to the non-pharmaceutical safety measures of COVID-19.
These include the washing of hands, the wearing of nose masks, observing physical distancing and cough etiquettes.
“And of course, if you get the chance to be vaccinated I think you’ve got to run and get it…some protection is better than no protection,” she advised.