Clearly a lot of Ghanaians have no idea of what this whole vaccine trial is about. But that is beside the point, what has really saddened me is how well educated folks who could simply research on it to be informed have refused to do so and yet are busily making public comments on it.
Today, i have tuned in to two big radio stations and on both stations, I was simply EMBARRASSED by radio panel members seriously shouting with passion but sadly too, with a LOT OF IGNORANCE on this whole Ebola vaccine trial.
So I have decided to answer three questions most people ask ignorantly – i don’t mean for you to be offended, just be informed.
1.What is this whole vaccine thing? Are they really introducing Ebola into Ghanaians?
A vaccine is a weakened form of a virus that is introduced into an individual so that the body develops immunity (let’s call this “body soldiers/ ability to fight”) against such disease. Yes, the vaccine contains the virus content. However this is weakened and the amount is too small to cause the disease – this is ensured by passing the vaccine through several tests and using animal subject over and over again.
2. Ghana has no Ebola, why not Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea who have had the virus?
People who have already been exposed to the virus (naturally as in the case of people in these countries) may already be producing such antibodies in their systems and so the researcher cannot tell if those antibodies is due to the natural exposure to the disease or by the vaccine they are testing. That is why it wouldn’t be prudent to try vaccines in places already exposed to the disease in this case, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
3. Why Ghana, Volta region, Hohoe?
This is the most unreasonable among the questions. FDA has stated over and over again that the Principal Researcher (the person who is doing this research) is in the University of Allied Sciences in Hohoe.
Additionally, the University have the needed facilities and equipment for such trials which makes it a suitable site for such trials, as was done for Polio, Onchocerciasis, etc.
I’ve noticed that people who have asked this first out of ignorance have received these answers but simply refused to accept, therefore permit me to ask you too the following,
a) Why not Ghana, Volta, Hohoe, etc.
b) If it was done at Kintampo Health Research in the Brong Ahafo Region or anywhere else in Ghana, would these questions be any different?
c) If it was any other project, as in the case of siting the University (UHAS) in Hohoe, would these same people question the motive for choosing their town?
4.If the test was ok why are they bribing the people with GHc 200.00 and mobile phones?
Again, FDA has denied that the amount is a bribe. In fact i believe if it were, it would possibly have been over the GHc10,000.00 range. Not all volunteers may have mobile phones – fact, and since they won’t be confined the researcher needs to have a means to communicate with them, check up on their health and manage the outcome of this trial and thus the mobile phones.
Personally, this seem a good enough reason though I don’t know why people keep re-questioning this motive, but to think GHc200.00 and a mobile phone – perhaps a yam is enough to bribe people into a “suicidal mission” is simply ridiculous.
Let me conclude by perhaps putting out the following – these are facts
Vaccine trials have been done over and over again with humans all over the world and with equally dangerous diseases – that is why we have OPV against polio today, Tetanus, Measles vaccine, Yellow fever vaccine etc. Ghana is benefiting from such trials and if such people had refused we wouldn’t be where we are today.
To those who say ‘ibe malaria self a ibe ok’ don’t worry, some families here in Ghana have already agreed for their children to be used for such tests (and perhaps is still ongoing), so when such drugs/vaccines are out and you gladly give to your child know that someone was used first.
I hope this helps clear the cloud on this issue but if you still have your passionate feeling I urge you to google ‘vaccine trial’ and educate yourself some more. Meanwhile if you are a radio panellist, PLEASE, tomorrow, don’t sit on my favourite channel and display your ignorance again because you guys make me change my radio dial out of embarrassment—making me loose the rest of my favourite morning show.
Written for GhanaCelebrities.Com by:
James Atta Aglah
Health Information Officer
District Health Directorate – N/R
Ghana Health Service