Ghana Atomic Energy Commission and Centre for Plant Medicine Research in advanced talks for collaborative research and technology transfer

The Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and the Centre for Plant Medicine Research (CPMR), Mampong Akuapem, have engaged in advanced talks for collaborative research on large-scale production of seedlings of Capparis erythrocarpos Isert, an important medicinal plant used in the management of rheumatoid arthritis in Ghana.

The research project is expected to foster collaboration between the two institutions, build capacity, and lead to the transfer of technology in the use of Plant Tissue Culture for large-scale propagation of important medicinal plants in Ghana. In addition, the collaboration will facilitate the exchange of scientific ideas and expertise in other areas of interest.

In a brief meeting held at the CPMR to strengthen/formalize this partnership, the Director of BNARI, Dr. Michael Yao Osae, expressed confidence that this project would encourage collaboration and facilitate the exchange of scientific ideas in other areas of mutual benefits to both institutions. He pointed out that besides plant tissue culture, the Gamma Irradiation Facility (GIF) at BNARI-GAEC is capable of sterilizing and preserving food and medicinal products to improve safety and extend the shelf-life. This technology will be of immense benefit to the CPMR and small-scale producers of traditional herbal medicine in Ghana.

The Acting Executive Director of CPMR, Dr. Kofi Bobi Barimah, disclosed that the use of plant tissue culture for mass production of C. erythrocarpos seedlings would encourage large-scale cultivation, eventually boosting production of “Sirrapac”, an important herbal medicine used for the management of rheumatoid arthritis in the clinic at CPMR. According to him, this partnership can be extended to solve cultivation challenges associated with other medicinal plants used for herbal medicines at CPMR. Mr. Tony Asafo-Agyei, a research scientist and head of the Plant Development Department (PDD) of CPMR who initiated discussions leading to the collaboration, was present at the meeting together with the Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Alfred Ampomah Appiah.

Dr. Wilfred Elegba, a research scientist at BNARI and leader of the project team, is working with other scientists from BNARI and CPMR to enhance the large-scale production and cultivation of C. erythrocarpos to meet the demand for “Sirrapac” production and for other medicinal uses. He reiterated the need for collaboration and partnership between research and teaching institutions/universities in Ghana to facilitate the development of innovative solutions to address challenges in agriculture.

Over the last two decades, BNARI has played a pivotal role in the development of plant tissue culture protocols for mass production of clean planting materials for food crops such as pineapple, plantain, sweet potato, sugarcane, and medicinal plants such as Aframomum melegueta (alligator pepper) and Phyllantus niruri (Awommaa guwakyi).

By: GAEC Multimedia/TTMC

UHAS Appreciates Ghana Atomic Energy Commission for Upgrade of COVID-19 Testing Capacity

The University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) has extended its appreciation to the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the logistic support to beef up its capacity in the fight against the global novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

 

As part of an initiative by the IAEA to help its Member States to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of laboratories around the world have been presented with a nuclear-derived testing technique called real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (real-time RT-PCR). This method is currently adjudged by scientists as the fastest and most accurate for the detection of the SARS-COV-2 virus, which is causing COVID-19.

UHAS through the efforts of GAEC on May 14, 2020, took delivery of a € 98,000 Euros worth of COVID -19 testing equipment donated to Ghana by the IAEA. The items include a COVID-19 Positive control, MIC-PCR System, Eurofins Genomics, MIC-4, TaqMan Fast Virus Master Mix, Class III Biohazard Safety Cabinet, and a Class II Biological Safety Cabinet, PCR workstation.

In a follow-up visit to UHAS, a delegation from GAEC on behalf of the IAEA met with the university’s COVID-19 select team to observe the extent of work done regarding equipment installation and use of donated items.

Prof. John Owusu Gyapong, Vice-Chancellor of UHAS, in a brief meeting with the GAEC delegation, disclosed that his outfit is able to deliver results of samples received from the Volta and Oti regions within a period of 24 to 48 hours. According to him, this has eliminated the worrying backlog situation in the regions. “Initially we had 16 wells for sample processing and receiving an additional 48 wells has fast-tracked the process. Additionally, over 12000 samples have been tested and this has been made possible partly due to the donation by IAEA and we are very grateful,”  he added. Prof. Gyapong appealed to the IAEA and GAEC to further support the University of Health and Allied Sciences with a -80oC freezer that would beef up their sample storage capacity since they are faced with difficulties managing the storage of their samples.

On behalf of Prof. B.J.B Nyarko, Director-General of GAEC, Dr. Shiraz Issahaku, Research Scientist and Dr. Adolf Kofi Awua, Senior Research Scientist and Centre Manager with the GAEC Radiological and Medical Sciences Research Institute (RAMSRI) expressed utmost satisfaction at the extent of work done by UHAS.

 

Dr. Issahaku acknowledged that IAEA is a UN Agency, and part of its objective is to ensure that Member States benefit from this type of initiative during pandemics of this proportion. He added that the IAEA has been of immense support to Ghana in the areas of training and capacity building programs as well as the donation of high-level equipment to facilitate research works in the fields of Health, Nuclear Science, and Biotechnology.

After an extensive tour of the laboratories, Dr. Adolf Kofi Awua on his part commended Dr. Kwabena Duedu, Biomedical Laboratory Scientist in Charge of the COVID 19 testing Centre who doubled as the Coordinator of the UHAS COVID-19 team and also Prof Richard Harry Asmah, Dean of the School of Basic and Biomedical Sciences and the entire team for living up to expectation.

He finally encouraged the UHAS team to keep up the good work till Ghana wins the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

By: GAEC Multimedia/TTMC

GAEC Celebrates Outgoing Director of Administration

The Management of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has congratulated outgoing Director of Administration, Mr. Felix Adeku, on his achievements and dedication to work over the past years in office.

Prof. Shiloh Osae-Deputy Director-General (right) presenting a citation to Mr. Felix Adeku (left) on behalf of the Commission. In the picture is Mr. William Srekuma(middle) the current Director of Administration

In a short ceremony held at the GAEC Guesthouse in Accra to mark his 60th birthday anniversary as well as bid him farewell on his retirement, Professor Benjamin J.B. Nyarko, Director-General of GAEC, recounted difficult times they shared together. He described Mr. Adeku as a comforter and a confidant whose judgment during critical decision-making moments always prevailed.

According to Prof. Nyarko, the Director’s endurance to pressure at all times, including odd hours, was amazing and stemmed from his passion to see GAEC succeed. He described the Director’s retirement as an enviable one, adding that “a leader’s struggle is real.”

The Deputy Director-General of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA), Prof. I.J.K Aboh, extended his appreciation to the wife and children of the Director of Administration and commended them for their unprecedented love, patience, and support for the Director during his active years in office.

 

Prof. Aboh who was once the Deputy Director-General of GAEC disclosed that Mr. Adeku worked tirelessly from one institute of GAEC to another to restore peace and good interpersonal working relationship among the staff. He added that Mr. Adeku had a unique and subtle way of addressing issues, regardless of their complex nature.

Mr. Felix  Adeku joined GAEC in 1992 and served for 28 years in various capacities. He served as a Scientific Secretory at the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI), Director of the National Nuclear Research Institute (NNRI), Head of General Services, and finally retired after serving for 8 years as Director of Administration.

He was presented with a citation by GAEC Management and the Technology Transfer and Marketing Centre (TTMC), respectively. Additional items that were presented to him as a sign of gratitude by the GAEC Secretariat, Welfare and Pensions Department included a 48-inch smart television, a refrigerator, and an air conditioner.

On his part, Mr. Adeku expressed joy at the love and support shown him by Management and the entire staff of GAEC throughout his stay in office. He was confident that the competent and hardworking staff of GAEC would continue to work in line with the vision of GAEC to achieve milestones.

Mr. Adeku ended with a Bible quotation from Romans 10:11 – 13 and prayed for the peace of God to lead staff and GAEC to success.

By: GAEC Multimedia/TTMC

Scientists of GAEC Produce Face Shields to Support Fight Against Covid-19 Pandemic

“In addition to healthcare and laboratory use of face shields, promotion of community intervention through wearing of face shields in combination with nose masks at schools, market places, churches, mosques and funeral gatherings should be encouraged for dealing holistically with the Covid-19 pandemic in Ghana”.

A statement made by Dr. Francis Hasford, project team leader, in an interview as he stressed the importance of face shields for Ghana’s fight against Covid-19.

 

Adding, he indicated that personal protective equipment such as face shields and nose masks have become highly important in the fight against Covid-19.

 

“Face shields offer several advantages and a great need for the containment of Covid-19”, he elaborated.

 

He explained that Coronavirus disease 2019, otherwise called Covid-19, is a highly infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. The disease has ravaged the entire globe and most people who fall sick with COVID-19 experience mild to moderate symptoms of fever, fatigue, dry cough, myalgia and dyspnea.

 

“Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer, however, have high tendencies to develop serious to critical illnesses, of which fatalities are very common” he warned.

 

He indicated that with calls for identification of home grown solutions such as local production of cost-effective personal protective equipment to aid in the fight of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Medical Radiation Physics Centre (MRPC) of the Radiological and Medical Sciences Research Institute (RAMSRI), of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, has successfully undertaken a project to produce face shields for staff of GAEC, health workers and the general public.

 

 

Finally, he opined that face shields are comfortable to wear, protect the pathways of viral entry, and reduce the potential of the wearer from touching their face.

 

“They can be reused indefinitely and are easily cleaned with soap and water. People wearing face shields do not have to remove them to communicate with others. The use of a face shield is a reminder to maintain social distancing and allows visibility of facial expressions and lip movements for speech perception”, he stressed.

 

On her part, Prof. Mary Boadu, Director of RAMSRI, appealed for funding and logistical support from Government and stakeholders to position Ghanaian scientists to produce research outcomes that can solve our local needs.

 

“One positive thing about Covid-19 pandemic is that we are being forced to innovate and produce locally, and to consume Made-in-Ghana products. Given the necessary support and funding, scientists in Ghana can address numerous challenges that the country has had to seek solutions to from overseas”, she concluded.

 

By: Corporate Affairs, GAEC

Ghana Atomic Energy Commission to Offer Quality Control Services for COVID 19 Fight

Ghana Atomic Energy Commission’s (GAEC) fight of the COVID-19 pandemic, has positioned it to offer third party quality control services for all nine-testing equipment located in various health facilities in the country.

The Radiological and Medical Sciences Research Institute (RAMSRI) of the Commission is leading this noble gesture.

The Institute is poised to help the process by detecting any possible analytical errors within the various laboratories to ensure reliability and accuracy of test results. This will help provide the best possible care to patients knowing the true state of their health. The “policing work” will ensure that at all times, results provided are both accurate and reliable. It will offer an unbiased, independent assessment of analytical performance of the various testing centers.

Over the years, RAMSRI, through its clinical audit program has been engaged in quality control assessment of diagnostic equipment as well as protocols, and procedures of our various hospitals in Ghana. The Institute is also involved in monitoring and evaluation of infectious diseases protocols using radionuclide based molecular techniques.

The Institute has highly qualified personnel involved in the study of the prevalence and distribution of infectious disease agents while advancing the use of molecular methods in infection diagnosis and management in the country.

RAMSRI is equipped with the technical know-how on the fight against infectious diseases such as Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Cancer causing agent, Tuberculous (TB) and HIV-AIDS. This wealth of experience has placed it at the right place to offer its services in the fight against COVID-19.

Furthermore, it is of interest to note that, RAMSRI has been working on infectious agents with molecular techniques for close to two decades. This will not be the first time the Institute has stepped up to the occasion to contribute to the national healthcare system.