A billion-dollar endowment fund for the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) will be launched to commemorate Dr Hideyo Noguchi’s 90th death anniversary.
The Institute was established in 1979 in honour of Dr Noguchi, who came to Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1927, to help find the causative agent of Yellow Fever during a devastating epidemic that swept through West Africa.
Prof Kwabena Mante Bosompem, Director of the Institute made this known when he addressed the Ghana Investment Seminar held in Tokyo, Japan for over 150 leading Japanese businesses.
He said the fund will be used for training and capacity building in public health emergencies; to conduct research into infectious and non-infectious diseases; as well as conduct operational research to improve national health systems.
Prof Kwabena Mante Bosompem
“While in Japan, our objective is to find Japanese partners including; individuals, organizations, businesses and Government agencies, as well as others who are interested in promoting the Hideyo Noguchi vision to contribute to the fund”, he explained.
Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister for Finance who was leading a government delegation to Tokyo, endorsed the fund and appealed to Japanese public and the private sectors to build on the 90-year relationship started by Noguchi by contributing generously to the fund.
He canvassed for patronage of this fund during all his meetings in both the public and private sectors, including meetings with the Taro Aso, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Finance; State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Masahisa Sato and Hiroshi Kato, Senior Vice President of JICA.
The delegation which also included the Deputy Health Minister, Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu also made the four-hour trip to the birthplace of Noguchi, Inawashiro, in the Fukushima region where a museum, exhibiting his memoirs and work in Ghana and the rest of the world had been built in his honour.
They were met by the Mayor of the town Hiroshi Zengo, who disclosed that the Museum was a major attraction in the town.
After the Museum tour, the delegation stopped to inspect a tree planted in the same town by former President John Agyekum Kufuor in April 2004 to mark Japan – Ghana Friendship Memorial Sakura Planting Ceremony.
Prior to coming to Gold Coast, Dr Hideyo Noguchi had made notable contributions to science including the discovery of the causative agent of Syphilis. Ironically, Dr Hideyo Noguchi lost his life to yellow fever barely a year later in 1928 in Ghana.
The NMIMR established in honour has grown over the years to become a regional reference laboratory for West Africa with strong global presence.
The institute provided leadership and technical support to countries affected by the recent Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in the sub-region, thus promoting the Hideyo Noguchi’s mission to stop misery and death through diseases.
Through the institute, Dr Noguchi’s legend continues to grow and influence the world in a way that kindles the flame of scientific research for disease prevention, detection, diagnosis, management and control.
Japan is currently funding the establishment of an advanced research centre for infectious diseases, at the institute which will be completed in August this year.
Prior to going to Tokyo, Ken Ofori-Atta paid a visit to NMIMR at Legon where he laid a wreath on the tomb of Dr. Noguchi.
The weeklong visit ended with the Investment Seminar organised by Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and the Ghana Embassy in Tokyo.
The Ghanaian delegation who were in Tokyo to strengthen and chart a new course for bilateral economic and trade relations has since returned home.