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Improving Access to Genetic Health

WAGMC was established in 2019 through funding from the World Bank. Faculty of the Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and Biomedical Health Sciences, University of Ghana (UG) proposed establishing the Centre to address Sickle Cell Disease which is a major Development Challenge in this region of the world as well as other genetic disorders acquired through somatic mutations. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most common genetic disorder in West Africa. Nearly 2% of livebirths in this region is affected by SCD, and 75% die by five years of age. Preventable deaths due to other common diseases with acquired genetically driven pathophysiology including leukaemia lymphoma, solid tumours, kidney disease and diabetes also pose a major development challenge in West Africa. Despite the significant impact of these genetic disorders on human health in the region, no existing African Centre of Excellence (ACE) is focused on such disorders. A World Health Assembly resolution WHA59.20 urged African Member States to develop medical genetics capacity to control SCD and genetic disorders in general.

In light of this WAGMC is offering post graduate programmes and courses targeted at postgraduates and early-career professionals with existing clinical skills including physicians who seek careers in genetic counselling. Training Africans to tackle our African problems will build capacity and competencies that will create relevant solutions for our people. WAGMC’s programmes will therefore bridge the major skill gap that the lack of health professionals in the area of genetics medicine has created within Africa. There is the need to use a research-intensive approach, modern and relevant teaching techniques to train students, which will ensure the employability of the new workforce produced by the Centre. The Centre will create a strong foundation and platform for collaborative research, resulting in accessible and relevant solutions which will then be adopted and replicated in countries within the sub-region.

Over the lifespan of WAGMC we intend to: Groom a class of genetic scientists and counsellors with the superior skill set through our MSc and PhD Genetic Medicine, MPhil. Genetic Medicine, MSc Genetic Counselling and short courses; maintain high standard of academic standards with respect to teaching and research, support research efforts of faculty, students and partners to enhance collaboration, sharing of comprehensive research findings and transforming findings into innovative health care solutions. Create a new profession in Genetic Medicine nationally and regionally. Build on existing relationships to create a new network focused on genetic medicine in the region, with the WAGMC as the hub. Establish labs to make genetic testing accessible to the sub-region