Ghana suspends Ebola vaccine trial amidst public outcry

Government has ordered the suspension of the planned Ebola vaccine trial in Ghana. This comes days after some groups and individuals raised questions about the risk it poses to the citizenry.

The directive also comes days after the Food and Drugs Authority justified the need for the trial to be undertaken in Ghana.

The FDA at a news conference Monday, said the vaccine is safe and would have no negative consequences on the volunteers.

“Science and medical ethics (of the FDA) says the Ebola vaccine trial will not harm Ghanaians, All the ethical issues have been addressed,” the ethics committee of the FDA said in a statement.

However the Ministry of Health has asked the FDA to suspend the exercise.

Public Relations Officer at the Ministry, Tony Goodman, confirmed the decision. According to Mr. Goodman,  the Health Minister, Alex Segbefia, who is out of the country, suspended the trial as a result of the widespread criticism of the exercise.

Among those to have strongly criticized the trial, are the Ghana Academy of Arts and Science and the Volta regional branch of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) .

“The Minister for Health is not in town. This whole thing is being done by FDA together with the Ghana Health Service. The Minister has got a lot of calls from numerous Ghanaians saying that they are not interested in any trial. So he said that since he’s not in Ghana, the trial should be suspended until he returns to look at the issues. ” Tony Goodman told Accra-based Citi FM.

Mr. Tony Goodman added that another reason for the suspension of the trial was the fact that the Minister did not believe that Ghanaians were not ready ‘psychologically’ to deal with vaccine trial for the Ebola Virus Disease.

“The Minister understands that the FDA have the mandate to do this trial but psychological health is very important, psychologically Ghanaians are not ready for the trials.”

Reports had uncovered a seeming clandestine attempts by health authorities to experiment the vaccines at Hohoe in the Volta Region.

Sources revealed that the Hohoe Midwifery Training School had been selected for the project. As part of an enticement package, students who will allow themselves to be used as ‘guinea pigs’ for the exercise , according to the highly placed source, will be given GHc 200 and a cell phone as reward.

Further probe revealed that pharmaceutical companies including, Johnson and Johnson and JSK were involved in the exercise.

READ ALSO:  Africa facing growing animal-to-human disease risk - WHO