Accra, GHANA– On April 30, 2021, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan joined Ghanaian government and military officials to inaugurate the Joint Operational Vector-borne Disease Entomology Laboratory at 37 Military Hospital in Accra. Funded by the U.S. government through the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Africa Malaria Task Force (AMTF), the laboratory will establish a combined entomology research and control program, the first of its kind in Ghana. Along with Ambassador Sullivan, representatives of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), Ghana Police Service (GPS), National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), and Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research also participated in the event.
The outdooring of the Joint Operational Vector-borne Disease Entomology Laboratory is the result of strong U.S.-Ghana military cooperation. In partnership with the GAF, GPS, NMCP, and Noguchi Institute, the laboratory will support the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Health malaria control programs with mosquito surveillance, directing insecticide applications, insecticides resistance monitoring, and mapping of potential disease-causing mosquitoes. The lab will also be a regional entomology hub in West Africa for other AMTF partners to benefit from in the future.
During her remarks, Ambassador Sullivan highlighted the strong bilateral military cooperation between the United States and Ghana that underpinned the establishment of the new laboratory and noted: “It is through programs such as AMTF that the U.S. government has been able to assist in reducing the number of malaria deaths in Ghana and around the globe. We look forward to seeing the continued progress of our joint efforts through this new laboratory. Together, we will end this mosquito-borne disease within this generation.”
Since 2011, the aim of the U.S. AFRICOM Africa Military Taskforce is to advance the global fight against malaria through capacity-building programs and multi-country military collaboration in Africa. In Ghana, the AMTF has provided comprehensive skills in malaria microscopy and medical entomology and fostered collaboration between the GAF and the National Malaria Control Program.
Joint Operational Vector-borne Disease Entomology Laboratory Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
As Prepared Remarks by
U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan
37 Military Hospital
Friday, April 30, 2021, 10:00am
Ghana Armed Forces, Director General of Medical Services, Brigadier GEN Ernest C. Saka Jr.
37 Military Hospital, Commander, Brigadier GEN Nii A. Obodai
37 Military Hospital, Commanding Officer, COL Azumah G. Bugri
37 Military Hospital, Public Health Division Officer-in-Charge CAPT Edward O. Nyarko
Ghana Police Service, Public Health Department Officer-in-Charge, Deputy Chief of Police (DCOP) Dr. Samuel Otu-Nyarko
Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research Director Abraham K. Anang
Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research, Head of Dept. Parasitology Samuel Dadzie
Ghana National Malaria Control Program (GNMCP) Program Manager Dr. Keziah Malm
Ladies and Gentlemen
All Protocols Observed:
Good Morning. I’m really happy to be here today to inaugurate the Joint Operational Vector-borne Disease Entomology Laboratory at 37 Military Hospital. This lab is the first of its kind in Ghana and wouldn’t have been possible without the strong military-to-military cooperation between our two nations.
Thank you to the Ghana Armed Forces, Ghana Police Service, Ghana National Malaria Control Program, and the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research for your partnership as we work to eradicate the scourge of vector-borne illnesses in Ghana. And on the U.S. side, I want to commend in particular our Naval Medical Research Unit 3 for your leadership in seeing this important project to fruition.
Today’s ribbon cutting ceremony is taking place during the week of World Malaria Day, which was on April 25. Each year, this day focuses the attention of the global community on the successes in malaria control programs and eradication as well as on the importance of maintaining the fight against this killer disease.
Malaria has a negative effect on productivity and economic development. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports malaria is responsible for one in five deaths of African children under age 5 every year. According to the Washington DC-based Population Reference Bureau, malaria takes its toll not only in lives lost, but also in medical costs, lost income, and reduced economic output. Children miss school and suffer physically and intellectually because of the disease. The risk of malaria and malaria epidemics grows along with climate change and changes in land use associated with mining, logging, and other projects. These changes often increase the breeding sites of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and, consequently, promote transmission of the disease. In addition, new mutant parasites and mosquitoes are growing resistant to medicines and insecticides.
For all of these reasons, I am happy about this new lab, which began with the Africa Malaria Task Force (AMTF), a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) initiative started in 2011, whose aim is to advance the global fight against malaria through capacity building programs and multi-country mil-to-mil collaboration in Africa. In Ghana, since its inception, the AMTF has provided comprehensive skills in malaria microscopy and medical entomology and fostered collaboration between the GAF and the National Malaria Control Program. Today’s inauguration represents the next evolution in this significant partnership.
Funded by the U.S. government through our Global Health Engagement Research Initiative and the Defense Health Agency (DHA), this lab will establish a combined entomology research and control program – the first of its kind in Ghana. The laboratory will support the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Health’s malaria control programs with mosquito surveillance, directing insecticide applications, insecticides resistance monitoring, and mapping of potential disease-causing mosquitoes.
Using skills acquired in previous AMTF tactical training as the foundation, laboratory personnel will create a data-driven entomology program to aid in the development of durable, rapid-acting countermeasures against malaria and other mosquito or tick-borne diseases. This lab will also establish a regional entomology hub in West Africa from which other AMTF partners can benefit in the future.
It’s also important to note that the U.S. government committed not only funds to this project but also brainpower. Project leads and key stakeholders include the world-renowned Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Emerging Infectious Disease Branch as well as the U.S. Navy Entomology Center of Excellence.
The U.S. government has long recognized malaria as a prime example of how infectious diseases affect global health security. The U.S. government continues to affirm its commitment to thwarting this disease. This is the same desire and goal we share with all of you here regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. It will take a similarly concerted global effort to combat and eventually eradicate malaria once and for all.
Over the past two decades, the United States has provided more than $140 billion dollars in global health assistance through programs like AMTF and the U.S President’s Malaria Initiative, or PMI, as well as through multilateral efforts like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. In fact, it’s our decades-long commitment and leadership in this area that has ensured progress toward a malaria-free world has continued, even as we’ve faced the COVID pandemic. PMI has invested in hundreds of millions of mosquito-killing nets and sprays, life-saving malaria tests and medicines, and heroic health workers in clinics and communities worldwide. Together with our partners, PMI has helped save 7.6 million lives and prevent 1.5 billion infections.
Earlier this week, PMI released its 15th Annual Report, which demonstrated the significant progress the United States and Ghana have made in our partnership to fight malaria. Ghana’s efforts to sustain essential malaria services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic continue to save lives. The United States is pleased to support these efforts under PMI through U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) programs.
It is through programs such as PMI and AMTF that the U.S. government has been able to assist in reducing the number of malaria deaths in Ghana and around the globe. We look forward to seeing the continued progress of our joint efforts through this new laboratory. In the words of U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator Dr. Raj Panjabi, “Ending malaria matters. It matters because it builds health systems that keep us all safer, including networks of community health workers, clinics and labs that help us fight malaria while protecting us from emerging threats like COVID-19.”
Together, let’s end this mosquito-borne disease within this generation.