The University of Ghana in partnership with Brown University have been awarded a $1.45 million U.S. dollar grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Fogarty International Centre to build the capacity at the post-graduate level for Tuberculosis and HIV research in Ghana. The grant partnership was launched at a meeting which took place at the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID).
Prof. John Gyapong, Pro-Vice Chancellor of ORID
Prof. John Gyapong, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Office of Research Innovation and Development who chaired the event was keen on the nature of research to be conducted. He emphasized that research should be driven by the goal of impacting lives to solve real life situations and offer immediate solutions to problems. According to him, the grant is a timely opportunity for the University of Ghana in terms of contributing to knowledge to advance the management of HIV and TB. He maintained that, beyond advancing the frontiers of knowledge, research productivity is a critical factor to be carefully considered. Prof. Gyapong threw a challenge to researchers at the University of Ghana to demonstrate to the world that the quality of research conducted can measure up to international standards. He also emphasized that the success of the research programme would depend on working closely with the Ghana Health Service.
A wide range of issues were discussed with regards to finding lasting solutions to the control of TB and HIV in Ghana.
Dr. Awewura Kwara, Principal Investigator from the Brown University
Dr. Awewura Kwara, Principal Investigator from the Brown University gave a comprehensive presentation about UG-Brown University Partnership and also touched on the essence of the award of the grant. He indicated that the long-term goal of the grant is to strengthen the institutional capacity of the University of Ghana for multidisciplinary research focused on addressing TB/ HIV research priorities. He pointed to the fact that graduates would be trained to delve into key research areas such as TB prevention, childhood and maternal TB, drug resistance in TB, programmes funding, integration of TB and HIV services, among others. Dr. Kwara noted that there are some areas that need a boost in capacity and these include; Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Clinical Behavioral and Social Sciences, Basic Sciences, and Implementation Science Research.
Prof. Margaret Lartey, Programme Director of the project
The Programme Director of the project, Prof. Margaret Lartey of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, recalled the first US and USAID sponsored grant of 1.1 million dollars that was awarded the UG-Brown University partnership over five years ago, towards a research capacity building project. She made a passionate appeal to trainees in the TB/HIV research programme to always remember their roots and return to help develop research after pursuing their careers. She also advised them to impact their knowledge to others to address the problem of TB and HIV in Ghana.
Prof. Lartey mentioned that lack of Biostatisticians is a challenge being faced by the College of Health Sciences and expressed satisfaction that a portion of the funds has been allocated for the purpose of enabling the trainees pursue PhD in Biostatistics. She stressed that this move is extremely crucial because the role of Biostatisticians in research is vital, adding that the study of Biostatistics is an area of need for most would-be researchers. She pledged the University of Ghana’s readiness to work hard to make the best outcome of the grant and also to increase its visibility as a research university while providing more local capacity to deal with disease epidemics. While thanking the National Institute of Health and Fogarty International for funding the project, Prof. Lartey also acknowledged partner universities from South Africa, the National TB, HIV and STI Programme Managers, the Ghana Health Service, Co-Principal Investigators from Brown University and ORID for all their support.
Dr. Frank Bonsu, Programme Director, National Tuberculosis Control Programme
The National Tuberculosis Control Programme Director, Dr. Frank Bonsu announced that Ghana would host a TB, HIV, Tobacco and Non-communicable Disease Conference in 2017.The conference would be held in Accra and under the theme “Accelerating Implementation through Partnership to End TB, HIV, Tobacco and Other Related Non-Communicable Diseases”.
Dr. Steve Ayisi-Addo, Director of the National Aids Control Programme
Dr. Steve Ayisi-Addo, Director of the National Aids Control Programme noted that his outfit as part of its mandate would provide strategic information to guide Ministries, Departments and Agencies to assist in the HIV control and prevention in Ghana. He added that his outfit would lend its support to the UG-Brown University TB/HIV research programme.
The University of Ghana and Brown University have been engaged in collaborations since 2004 and have undertaken several research projects.
The ceremony was attended by faculty and students from the College of Health Sciences, particularly from the School of Medicine and Dentistry and the School of Public Health.