Make 2021 a year of Science – Alliance for Science Ghana to Akufo-Addo

We bring you warm regards and wishes of a happy New Year from Team Alliance for Science Ghana. We wish you an outstanding year in which all your hopes and aspirations will gloriously come alive.

Afehyia pa.

2020 was by all standards a difficult year. COVID-19 battered the world from coast to coast, killing about 2 million people and infecting more than 90 million others. Young and old, males and females, fit and strong, all struggled to cope with not just the impact of the virus on their health, but with the disruption, it caused to our daily lives. Schools closed down, airports were shut, businesses folded up, and we couldn’t even congregate to show love to one another.

Our food systems came under even more severe strain in 2020. The Food and Agricultural Organization and other United Nations agencies estimated that between 83 million and 132 million people were going to get hungry in 2020 as a result of the economic recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But thanks to the extra-ordinary abilities of human ingenuity, we stood up to the challenge. A vaccine that protects the populace against COVID-19 which ordinarily should take up to 10 years to develop was produced in less than one year. Countries that were heavily dependent on importation of tools and equipment to keep their health systems running suddenly found the creativity to produce respirators and masks and PPEs to save their people from the jaws of death. Today, we are far from getting out of the woods. But the path that will take us all out of this is much clearer now. Thanks to the work of science.

For us in Ghana, 2021 should be the year in which we take science, research and technological innovation a lot more seriously as a nation. That is the only way we can squarely face the tough realities that 2021 and beyond is bringing our way. His Excellency, can you imagine what Ghana would have been like if the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research had not been built in 1979 at the University of Ghana, and the Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research at KNUST in Kumasi was non-existent? Can you imagine if as a nation we had not invested in our medical practitioners and trained them adequately in the handling of infectious diseases? COVID-19 would have wiped millions or more people off.

His Excellency, that is why we are appealing to you and your government to make 2021 a year of

science.

First, government should make the necessary social and financial investment in research that will directly help make COVID-19 vaccines available in the country. It was gratifying to hear you disclose that the Ghana Health Service is working with international partners to procure some of the vaccines for the populace. But Ghana and Africa need to get more deeply involved in the production of the vaccine itself. 2021 is the year we should make that happen, and at least begin the process. More than 190 COVID-19 vaccines are currently under development across the world according to World Health Organisation. None is being done in Africa. The closest Africa has gotten to working on Covid-19 vaccines is South Africa undertaking clinical/human trials of vaccines produced in USA, and UK. Ghana should lead the way and work towards rallying the rest of Africa to produce our own vaccines as well.

Secondly, Ghana currently spends about 0.3% of the country’s gross domestic products (GDP) on science and technology despite a recommendation from African Union that all countries on the continent spend at least 1% of GDP on science and technology. Government should endeavour to operationalize the National Research Fund and dedicate at least 1% of GDP to research, majority of which should focus on the physical sciences.

And thirdly, more needs to be done to improve food security and make Ghana less dependent on imported food. Following the passage of the National Biosafety Act in 2011, a lot of work has been ongoing by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to introduce various biotech crops.

Now is the time for us to realise the full potential of those research investments.

His Excellency, 2021 should be the year that you and your government work to make science and technology the pivot around which our development revolves.

Accept our sincerest regards His Excellency.

Source: Ghana Web

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