Accra, Jan 19, GNA-Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice Chancellor, University of Ghana on Tuesday hailed the achievements of the University’s Annual New Year School and Conference over the past seven decades.
He said the Annual New Year School and Conference had for 72 years served as a barometer for gauging public for the promotion of good governance and socio-economic development.
Prof Owusu said in a remark at the opening of 72nd Annual New Year School and Conference at the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra.
The two-day programme, which was opened by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education, College of Education, University of Ghana.
It is on the theme: « Building Ghana in the Face of Global Health Crises”.
The Vice Chancellor described the theme for this year’s School as timely given the collateral consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in all sectors of the economy.
Prof Owusu said it was pertinent to mention that the government had made significant efforts to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on vulnerable people and private sector growth.
The food relief, electricity and water tariff reliefs to consumers and the promise of stimulus package for Small Scale and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) are some notable initiatives.
He said: “Being the first major event on the University calendar, I always look forward to the Annual New Year School and Conference, which over the years has been a source of great pride to the University”.
He noted that for the New Year School to survive from colonial era, through the various military and civilian dispensations to this present day shows its relevance in the national development agenda.
He said this year’s Annual New Year School and Conference was taking place at a peculiar time, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, which had affected nations across the globe.
He said in Ghana, several measures were implemented to curtail the spread of this dreaded virus; notably were a lockdown, social distancing protocols and lifestyle changes.
He said the closure of schools, colleges, and universities was necessary given the prevailing circumstances, and as the premier university in the country, it embraced the challenge and rolled out innovative strategies to ensure that teaching and learning continued, as students’ continued to stay at home.
“I am happy to report that we were able to complete the academic year without putting students at risk of infection,” he said.
Prof Owusu said the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) of the University of Ghana, had played a critical role in the fight against COVID-19 through testing.
He said scientists at the NMIMR and the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) of the University had successfully sequenced genomes of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the global COVID-19 pandemic, obtaining important information about the genetic composition of viral strains in 15 of the confirmed cases in Ghana.
Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, the Presidential Co-ordinator of Government of Ghana’s Coronavirus Response Programme and former Deputy Director-General, World Health Organization, delivered the keynote address.
He said in the past 20 years, countries had invested heavily in preparing for terrorist attacks, but relatively little preparation for an attack of a virus; adding that COVID-19 had proven to be more deadly, disruptive and costly.
“No country is fully prepared, but at the same time no country is fully unprepared. Preparedness is a process, and there is always room for improvement,” he said.
Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse, the Chancellor of the University of Ghana, who chaired the function urged participants to give special attention to women in their communique.