OREANDA-NEWS. On May 19, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a grant agreement (G/A) with the Government of the Republic of Ghana to provide grant aid of up to 2.285 billion yen for the Project for the Construction of Advanced Research Center for Infectious Diseases at Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.

This project will build an advanced research center for infectious diseases at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) in Ghana and procure research equipment, strengthening the capacity for research and human resource development at the institute, and boosting the capacity to fight infectious diseases in Ghana and greater West Africa.

Bronchitis, malaria, HIV/AIDS, diarrhea and other infectious diseases account for more than 70 percent of major diseases in Ghana and measures against infectious diseases are an important part of the country’s health strategy. Moreover, Ghana’s national development plan for 2014–2017 cites the need for strengthening infectious disease research. The NMIMR has been internationally recognized for its central role in fighting infectious diseases in West Africa, its efforts including screening suspected cases in neighboring countries when Ebola hemorrhagic fever broke out and was declared an emergency in August 2014. The institution has also been actively expanding its research activities, which include commissioned research and studies as well as collaborative research with Japanese universities and other institutions, increasing the number of projects from 56 in 2010 to 78 in 2014. However, the NMIMR currently has difficulty securing enough research and experimentation space to ensure studies can be carried out safely and reliably, and this inadequacy of space impedes the progress of advanced research. To improve these circumstances, this project will construct an advanced research center for infectious diseases in the NMIMR, the center to include a biosafety level 3 laboratory and other research facilities, creating a system where more advanced research and experiments can be carried out safely and reliably. The institute also plans to accept internship students from the University of Ghana, which is expected to contribute to the development of young researchers in the country.

Since providing grant aid in 1979 to assist in establishing the NMIMR, JICA has provided technical cooperation and grant aid continuously, greatly contributing to improvement in the research capacity in the field of infectious diseases at the NMIMR. The NMIMR has now become known as a medical research institution representing not just Ghana but greater West Africa, and this project will further develop that reputation.