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Whereas many people will be apprehensive when it comes to participating in any in-human vaccine trials, same cannot be said about the people of Navrongo and its surrounding areas in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality of the Upper East Region.
The people in the community have always been willing to participate in several trials conducted by the Navrongo Health Research Centre.
The Acting Director of the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC), an agency of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Odum Ansah, who disclosed this in an interview with a team of journalists from the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) at the premises of the Centre, attributed the enthusiasm of the people in the area in taking part in vaccines trials to the trust and confidence they have built in the centre’s activities.
He explained that the NHRC has over the years built a strong relationship with the communities in its catchment areas, hence the people were well informed and also educated about all the activities and activities of the centre.
According to Dr. Ansah, the people in most of the communities in the Upper East region, particularly in the Kassena-Nankana districts have come to appreciate vaccines development and understand the essence of vaccines trials, hence their willingness to enroll in vaccine trials.
He said the NHRC has been in the community for more than 25 years, with almost all their staff living with the people in the community.
Dr Ansah indicated that scientists at the centre go to the communities to educate members on any vaccine trial being conducted by the Centre before people were enrolled for the exercise, noting that the education was done in the language that the people understood.
“Normally, we go to the community and tell them ourselves,” he noted, adding that all the opinion leaders and chiefs in the communities are also briefed on any exercise being undertaken by the Centre.
He observed that “the enthusiasm to participate is there”, saying “that is why it behooves us as scientists that the right protocols are followed” in conducting vaccine trials.
According to Dr Ansah, the people of Navrongo and its environs have been key partners to the centre’s success story, noting further that the centre would continue to deepen its collaboration with the communities in its catchment areas.
The team of the journalists from the African Media and Malaria Research Network also paid a courtesy call on the Paramount Chief of the Navrongo Traditional Area, Pe Denis Aneakwoa Balinia Adda Asagpaare II, as part of their four-day field trip to the NHRC for the Network’s health advocacy work.
Navro Pio Asagpaare II said the NHRC has become a great asset to the people of the area, the region and the country as a whole, in terms of its contributions to the healthcare system in the country.
Pe Asagepaare II said the centre has contributed to improving healthcare delivery in the area, stressing that the centre has also supported many indigenes to further their studies and that most of them are currently serving in various departments and contributing to the development of the country.
He added that many of the staff engaged by the centre are indigenes, hence creating employment opportunities for many graduates and others in the area.
“With the presence of the Centre, almost everyone in Navrongo has basic education on health,” he said.
Navro Pio Asagpaare II further noted that the presence of the centre has helped to push many diseases, including elephantiasis which used to be endemic in his traditional area into near extinction.
“The Center has come to help not only the people of Navrongo, but the whole country. We, the people of Navrongo, are very fortunate to have it here,” he noted.
The Executive Secretary of AMMREN, Dr Charity Binka, urged health journalists to continue to inform and educate the public on existing and emerging health trends.
She said many people relied on the media for their health information, hence the responsibility on journalists and media houses to publish accurate health information.
She commended journalists from the African Media and Malaria Research Network for their dedication to the fight against malaria in the country and Africa as a whole.
Dr Binka said the field trip to the NHRC was intended to enable the selected journalists to obtain first-hand information on the work and activities of the NHRC and to help them familiarise themselves with the work of the Centre.