Minister Raps MPs Over Ebola For Phone

After the Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia, briefed parliament yesterday and allayed the fears of MPs on the Ebola vaccine trial in the country and its effect, some MPs from both sides of the House still expressed strong opposition to the trial, saying there was no need for such a trial since the country is not an ‘Ebola country.’

“Mr speaker, the vaccine for the proposed GSK trial is an Ebola giycoprotein gene. When the vaccine is injected into healthy humans, antibodies against the Ebola will be produced which can lead to the prevention of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

….The vaccine, according to information available, cannot cause EVD since it does not replicate in humans due to deletion of its replicating gene. For the avoidance of doubt, the vaccine does not contain the Ebola virus; I repeat, this vaccine does not contain the Ebola virus and cannot cause the Ebola disease,” the minister told parliament.

Students of Hohoe Midwifery Training School in the Volta Region had been selected as volunteers for the test trial in exchange for GH¢200 each and a mobile phone.

But the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, said that he did not understand why the vaccine was being tried in Ghana, which is an Ebola-free country.

He asked the minister what the vaccines were going to be tried on because there is no Ebola in the country.

He said that as a government it has to take full responsibility for any unforeseen consequences and that it would be better to carefully think through that.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member for Manhyia South, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, raised serious concerns about the vaccine trial, saying that there were a lot of questions to be answered by the government.

According to him, the nation must know who represented the country at the World Health Organisation meeting in September last year where the decision was taken to use Ghana as trial country for the vaccine.

He said parliament must also probe the calibre of people who sat on the ethic committee of the Food and Drugs Authority for the green light to be given for a commercial entity to carry out the vaccine trial in the country.

“Mr speaker, Ghanaians must be told the benefit that will accrue to the nation financially and technically from this vaccine trial,” Mr Opoku Prempeh charged.

According to him, parliament must rise up and do a lot of probing into the matter.

Mr Alex Segbefia responded that he would facilitate a meeting between the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health and the experts so that parliament could be briefed well on the technicalities of the process.

The speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, approved of such a meeting and said that the Committee on Health should take three weeks to probe all the nagging questions about the process and come and brief the House since the issue had become a thorny issue for Ghanaians.

By Thomas Fosu Jnr

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