By Gifty Arthur
Contrary to perception that, African scientists are not doing anything, but waiting for their European counterparts to research and find cure for the dreaded coronavirus epidemic, there are frantic efforts by Ghanaian scientists to find cure.
According to the General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), scientists in Ghana for instance at the Noguchi Centre for Medical Research at the University of Ghana, Legon, where samples of suspected COVID-19 cases are tested, are researching into the disease on how to find cure, just like their counterparts elsewhere.
Dr Justice Yankson, said initially, Noguchi could not research into the virus, because it had no samples of the virus, but since Ghana recorded cases, scientists have begun working towards that direction and looking forward to find a cure.
The General Secretary of the Association, said this during a sensitization workshop organized by the Information Ministry for members of the Private Newspapers Association of Ghana (PRNPAG) on COVID-19 in Accra on Monday.
Dr Yankso, who took journalists through “media reporting”, defended what the Institution has been able to achieve over the period when it comes to research and trials.
Aside being a facility of international repute, Dr Yankson said, the Institute has over the years, lived up to its core mandate, adding in the sub region, it is the best.
“Noguchi is not just taking samples and testing it, it is also a research institution and there are scientists in there as we speak.
You see, initially we didn’t have cases so it was difficult for them to get even the virus itself to work by way of the research but now that we have the cases, the sample that we send there, apart from the testing they are also dong scientific studies and research of the samples as we speak.
So, it is not just a test facility, but also research facility of international repute. What we have here sometimes we don’t value, West Africa Health Organization, everybody is looking up to Noguchi they have even contracted them to help in other countries as and when they have the means, tools and resources………and the scientist there,are not just Ghanaians there are scientist there from other countries”, he said.
Touching on how the media can get it right in reporting on the novel COVID-19, Dr Yankson, urged them to be circumspect and abide by their code of ethics, to avoid sensationalism, fear, panic, misreporting, and abide by the protocol put in place.
He said, any attempt by the media to indulge in negative reporting will “stop people from reporting to hospitals”. The coronavirus epidemic which has led to Ghana recording some 52 cases as at yesterday he said was “a fight we need to ensure we win together”.
He added, all the team of experts and the government need from the media is for them to endeavor to seek the right kind of information and feed the public with accurate news.
Dr Yankson, assured they would do their best to resist any attempt by politicians to play political football with it, but urged the media to play their role well.
Director of Health Promotion Division at Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Da Costa Aboagye, said the media must play it role diligently as other stakeholders do theirs as “We do not want to lose control” and also “build public trust”/
Dr. Aboagye, who is also the chair of the National Covid-19 Risk Communication and Social Mobilization Committee, said the media must necessarily follow the protocols for the control of the disease and shun the habit of seeking information from people who know next to nothing to the issue at stake.
He provided names of contact of professionals designated to speak and provide information for the public, saying the best place to seek information, is from the Ghanahealthservice.org/covid19 website, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and others.
Announcement of new cases , he said will mostly be by the Health Minister, adding communication at national regional and district levels, will be done by specific officials for accurate and proper dissemination of information.
A Deputy Minister of Information, Pius Enam Hadzide, thanked the media for it contribution to the fight against COVID-19, but said the work of the inky fraternity, will much be appreciated if it stuck to the right and accurate information in this abnormal times to bring sanity.
Citing the Chinese example, Mr Hadzide, said the media must necessarily ask important questions and leave out issues that will draw the fight back.
He said, issues like procurement and other critical questions, could be asked, but must be done at a time when they are sure it will not derail the fight to end coronavirus.
He said the media must name and shame politicians who make COVID-19 issue, a partisan.
Speaking on behalf of the Association, Andrew Edwin Arthur, thanked the Ministry for the initiative, saying members of the Association, will do well to justify the investment made to educate the media.