32 herbal drugs to be tested for COVID-19 cure in Ghana.
It’s time to look inward! - Yoofi Grant
Africa's input into research has been pegged at 1 percent of the global investment. Ghana currently does some 0.4 percent. The World health organisation adds that out of the 54 countries in Africa only South Africa contributes the largest investment into research with a current average of 0.78 percent. However, Nigeria makes the highest contribution into herbal research in Africa - infact any significant inputs.
The executive director of the center for plant medicine research Dr. Kofi Barimah says he does not remember the last time the government gave them any money, they have lived off their lean internally generated funds. "This can hardly support anything".
The ministry of health has submitted 32 herbal drugs for testing to find a possible drug for COVID 19 at the center for plant medicine research. Over 70 private sector people also gave drugs they want tested. The ministry has not yet given money for this urgent research, which could be done in just a month. Racing against time the center is using its meager resources which does not meet a world-class WHO standard. They will need not less than 50million dollars to run an international standard facility. Deputy director for the center, Dr. Alfred Appiah notes: “currently testing is going on at various stages and a proposal has been sent to the health ministry for the needed investment.”
The center like most research centers in Ghana depends largely on donor support. The Director of Nuguchi memorial institute the lead in the testing of COVID-19 cases in Ghana, Abraham Annan told me last year that the government since 2009- more than 10 years ago, had not given a cedi to the center for research.
SARS and the herbal Magic
China in recent times had to battle Severe acute respiratory syndrome(SAR). The herbal industry, according to the World Health Organisation, rescued the nation. China, India, Nigeria, and the United States of America (USA) are the leading countries in the world producing and consuming herbal drugs- WHO.
China's annual herbal production is 48 billion dollars. Just 2 billion of that could change Ghana's economy.
UNCTAD warns FDI will drop by 40%
The latest UNCTAD projection indicates a worldwide drop in foreign direct investments. The CEO of GIPC, Yoofi Grant, adds the situation for Ghana is dire. Ghana projected an FDI of 10 billion dollars from the 2018 figure of 3.5 billion dollars. The first quarter of the year looked good, with a 400 percent rise in FDI, until coronavirus became a big international issue.
How does this affect research in Ghana?
Big time! More than 80 percent of the funding for most research done in the state-owned research centers are from international collaborators. They, at this time, may either cut their funding support or look at internally, supporting their agencies. Leaving various researches mid-way.
Time to Look Inward - GIPC
GIPC boss Yoofi Grant says it’s time to look inward.
"Take companies that are contributing to the economy and give them incentives. Let us build our internal structures and technologies".
Perhaps this is the time to pay attention to research and look at how to build industries that contribute hugely to employment. Industries contribute the second largest to Ghana's GDP and employ many. The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, in a recent publication to the financial times indicated the need to turn attention on the health sector. This cannot be done without research!
Odelia Ntiamoah is the CEO of the Chamber for Tourism Industry Ghana. She is a journalist by profession with training from Bloomberg, DW, and the USA state department under the IVLP. Her contribution as a journalist earned her a place as a board member in Ghana's premium research organization CSIR. Odelia is a multiple award winner.