A prominent infectious diseases expert, Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan, M.D., has urged national governments to provide needed support to African biomedical scientists and biomedical engineers as they work hard to provide solutions for the continent’s medical and public health problems.
He said, we as Africans will have to provide the solutions to our own problems.
Speaking at the Noguchi Medical Research Institute of the University of Ghana in Legon, Nyan’s lecture focused on the, “Challenges and Prospects in Public Health Response to Outbreaks in (West) Africa – The Case of Ebola, COVID-19, and Monkeypox.”
The lecture presented a synopsis of the genetics of the three viruses as well as their mode of transmission and the pathogenesis (that is, how the viruses cause their respective diseases in humans).
The Noguchi Medical Research Institute is one of Ghana’s renowned biomedical research institutes located at the University of Ghana in Legon. The institute has been playing a major role in Ghana’s fight against COVID-19 Pandemic.
Nyan said that, “For the past century, Africa has seen a lot of infectious diseases, both emerging and re-emerging diseases like lassa, typhoid, yellow fever, malaria, the diarrheal disease and many others that have placed a disproportionate health burden on the continent.”
The award-winning medical scientist further outlined that Africa’s weak and fragile health systems, lack of infrastructures, limited number of trained professionals, misallocation of financial resources, and weakness at implementing national health policies are some underlying factors that have contributed to the problems with Africa’s preparedness to respond to outbreaks over the years.
He, however, applauded efforts of the African continent in its successful fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, praised Ghana’s success in arresting the recent Marburgvirus outbreak and that of Nigeria’s public health response to the 2014 Ebola virus transmission into its borders, thus prevented its spread in that populous country.
Policies must be design through which governments will strongly support research and development, and support faculty researchers and student innovation projects that will promote Africa’s advancement in science, medicine and technology, Nyan, the NIH-trained scientist pointed out.
He added that students must be allowed to bring out their “crazy ideas” and should not be shot down since that “crazy idea” could be a potential breakthrough invention.
On intellectual property, Nyan, an inventor and patents holder, emphasized that, “we [Africans] must protect our ideas” and publish our works so that we are not denied, but receive our due credits.
He urged African governments to support biomedical start-up companies for manufacturing and marketing of Made-in-Africa biomedical products such as testing kits and not depending on the western countries.
The Liberian medical scientist, Nyan, is the world acclaimed inventor of the US patented rapid multiplex real-time isothermal test for infectious diseases (The NYAN-TEST) which simultaneously detects and identifies up to 7 infections in one hour using one test. This includes Coronaviruses, HIV/AIDS, malaria, Ebola and many more. Dr. Nyan has received two US patents for his inventions.
He testified before the US Congress in September 2014 on the Ebola outbreak and is the winner of the 2017 African Innovation Award Special Prize for Social Impact for his invention. During the current COVID-19 Pandemic, Dr. Nyan, has provided services in diagnostics, awareness on prevention, and promoted mass vaccination in the US and Africa.
Contributed to by: Jana-Astrid Schäfer and Fatoumata Njei