Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday angrily chided the Ministry of Health for giving the green light to Ebola vaccine phase one trial to be conducted in the Hohoe municipality of the Volta Region without the consent of the people’s representatives (parliamentarians).
The MPs have therefore called for an immediate halt to the vaccine trial and asked leadership of parliament to as matter of urgency, invite the minister of health to come and brief the House on the whole process because in their view, the vaccine trial could be ‘dangerous’ for the country.
A private pharmaceutical company from the US is said to be carrying out the Ebola vaccine trial with approval from the Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the Ministry of Health.
The minister of Health, Alex Segbefia is said to have called for the suspension of the ebola vaccine trials in Hohoe in the Volta region.
Students of Hohoe Midwifery Training School were selected as volunteers for the test trial in exchange for GH¢200 each and mobile phones.
The issue was raised by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member for Ho West, Emmanuel Bedzrah, before yesterday’s proceedings started.
The MP said MPs representing people in the Volta Region had serious reservations about this vaccine trial, especially in the region and wanted parliament to quickly intervene so that lives of the people in the region are not jeopardized.
“Mr speaker, we are not against our research institutions undertaking research and medical trials, but we cannot accept the situation where the proposed trial is carried out without proper communication and interaction with major stakeholders in the region like MPs,” he said, adding that reliable information from the municipality indicated that students of the Hohoe Midwifery School had been approached by the researchers and promised GH¢200 and a mobile phone each for them to be used for the trial.
The NPP Member of Parliament for Adansi/Asokwa, KT Hammond was particularly angry that the US company is using Ghana for the vaccine trial and said that if it thinks there is no side effect, the company should rather try it in the US.
“Mr Speaker, we are not guinea pigs and chimpanzees and so if they want to try any vaccine there are a lot chimpanzees and guinea pigs around, they should try it on them,” he said.
The MP for Essikado/Ketan, Joe Ghartey, who is also the second deputy speaker, said the issue is a very serious one since the Ebola disease is not only very deadly, but also too scary.
“Mr Speaker, I wonder why this sensitive exercise could be conducted without parliament having any knowledge about it,” he said, stressing that the fact that parliament was bypassed for such ‘dangerous’ trial to be carried out, meant there was something terribly wrong with the governance system.
The deputy minority leader, Dominic Nitiwul, said all those institutions that gave the green light for the trial to be conducted must be seriously questioned.
The majority chief whip, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka and NDC MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, contradicted each other. The former said the trial was sanctioned by government with guidelines to be strictly followed, while the MP for North Tongu said the exercise had not been given political approval and that it was by a private initiative.
The speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, also expressed concern about the procedure for the exercise and directed that the minister of health appear before the House next Tuesday to thoroughly brief parliament about the whole exercise.
BY Thomas Fosu Jnr
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