The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) is set to host a new German-West African Centre for Global Health and Pandemic Prevention (G-WAC) within the College of Health Sciences in KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana.
The G-WAC project officially started on Saturday, 1st May 2021 with funding worth about 2.8 million EUR from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
The G-WAC is one of the eight new DAAD-funded Global Centres for Climate and Health to be established across low- and middle-income countries to address global challenges with a commitment of approximately 22 million EUR in funding from the German Foreign Office from 2021 to 2025.
The aim of G-WAC at KNUST is to be a Centre of excellence dedicated to addressing the existential threat of global pandemics to health and the welfare of people in the West-African sub-region and beyond.
A-One Health approach is needed to undertake trans and inter-disciplinary research targeting both the main drivers of pandemics; health impact of wild habitat encroachment, extensive agriculture and climate change, spillover of pathogens from wild animals to humans, and increased human mobility and also the key pillars of resilient health systems per the WHO framework which includes, effective governance, sustainable financing mechanisms, appropriate human resource capacity, availability of essential medicines and technology, reliable health information, and responsive health service delivery.
Among other things, the innovative exchange programmes for postgraduate training which G-WAC will engage in will provide at least 14 doctoral training opportunities across disciplines.
G-WAC will also offer study and research stays at the partner institutions in Ghana and abroad to master’s students and other young scientists.
The Centre also aims at establishing a West African policy dialogue on topics relevant to Global Health, Pandemic Prevention and One Health.
The German Ambassador to Ghana Christoph Retzlaff lauded the initiative and assured Germany’s support to the launch of G-WAC in Ghana.
“Excellent news: Germany fully support the launch of a new German-West African Centre for Global Health and Pandemic Prevention,” he said.
The Vice-Chancellor of KNUST, Professor (Mrs.) Rita Akosua Dickson indicated that the G-WAC is another demonstration of KNUST’s outstanding history of impactful collaborations with national and international institutions of higher education and research.
“With our combined capacity to address the challenges of pandemic preparedness, expanding our institutional remit to establish a Centre of excellence as a dedicated effort to advance state-of-the-art research and practice in Global Health with a focus on pandemic preparedness is both timely and of potentially great impact not only for Ghana but the rest of Africa,” she added.
The Provost of the KNUST College of Health Sciences, Professor Christian Agyare explained that the G-WAC draws on the experience and expertise of at least three schools within the College of Health Sciences namely; School of Public Health, School of Allied Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Dentistry and School of Veterinary Medicine, and of two main German partners: the Berlin School of Public Health including Technische Universität Berlin [TUB] and Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and the University Hospital Bonn (UKB).