Ebola Vaccine trial in VR suspended

The Ministry of Health has suspended a planned Ebola Vaccine trial that was expected to take place at Hohoe in the Volta Region.

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) Monday gave international pharmaceutical companies, Johnson & Johnson, Bavarian Nordic, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), to commence the trial in the country.

According to the FDA, the development of the vaccine will benefit the country and will not pose any health threats to the public.

Although participants in the voluntary programme will be given Ȼ200.00 and a mobile phone, several Civil Society organisations and the Volta Regional branch of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) have all kicked against the exercise.

They called on government to immediately abort it.

In a statement, the leadership of the NDC in the region described the exercise as unfortunate.

Speaking on Peace FM’s morning show ‘Kokrokoo’, Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Health Service Tony Goodman, says the ministry has decided “that the best thing to do is to suspend the trial”.

He said in order for the exercise to continue successfully, it needed the corporation and participation of the public and once the “psychological preparedness” needed is not available “it will not go through”.

Mr Goodman admitted that the ministry failed to take the public through the necessary education which would have eased their fears about the process.

When asked the reason why the Volta Region was chosen for the exercise, Mr Goodman said this will not be the first time the region has been taken through a trial, “it has a track record in doing trial tests”, he said.

He cited the trial of onchocerciasis (river blindness) and malaria vaccines there.

He added that the Ȼ200.00 was supposed to cater for the transportation of the volunteers while the mobile phone was to help health personnel assess the health of the volunteers once the vaccine has been administered on them.

Mr Goodman also indicated that the vaccine trial was not an imposition as people thought.

According to him, the Health Minister is out of town and once he arrives, a decision will be taken on whether to continue with the trial or not.

He also said Ghana was chosen for the trial because it has the capacity and is noted to be one of the best resource centres in Africa.