Prof. Eric Sampane-Donkor Delivers Inaugural Lecture

                                                               Prof. Eric Sampane-Donkor


Prof. Eric Sampane-Donkor, Head, Department of Medical Microbiology has delivered an inaugural lecture on the topic: ‘The 130-Year War between Man and Pneumococcus: Who is Winning?’ The lecture which marked the beginning of the inaugural lecture series for the 2021/2022 academic year and the first since the University resumed regular operations after the outbreak of Covid-19, was chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo.

Introducing the topic, Prof. Sampane-Donkor noted that Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae) also referred to as Pneumococcus was isolated for the first time by Stenberg and Pasteur independently in 1881. He also indicated that several discoveries of S. pneumoniae were based on bacteria.

In expounding the characteristics of the S. pneumoniae, Prof. Sampane-Donkor revealed that the organism was carried as a normal flora of the upper respiratory tract (nasopharynx) of healthy individuals. He added that there are several factors that affect carriage of the organism with the strongest factor being age, so, children tend to carry the organism more than adults.

Still on the characteristics of the organism, Prof. Eric Sampane-Donkor stated that it was possible for the organism to move to the lungs and cause pneumonia to the meninges; this would causeingitis if it stayed in the respiratory tract.

Drawing on the past and ongoing research, the lecturer provided an overview of the high rate of transmission on pneumococcus. According to him, the study was focused mainly on carriage of the organism in the general population, but also among risk populations, sickle cell, diabetic and HIV-AIDS patients.

In examining the carriage prevalence of pneumococcus in different parts of Ghana, Prof. Sampane-Donkor revealed that about 50% of children less than five (5) years carried the organism, sickle cell children, 48% and lower carriage of the pneumococcus among HIV/AIDS infected children was about 27%. Reflecting on data and other studies carried out in Ghana, he disclosed that people in low and middle-income countries, appear to be higher carriers of the Pneumococcusorganismthan those in industrialised countries.

On the issue of antibiotic resistance and S. pneumoniae following the discovery of penicillin, Prof. Sampane-Donkor noted that about 80 years ago, antibiotics changed the game in the warfare between man and the pneumococcus. He underscored the fact that antibiotic misuse occurs more in the developing world where rates of self-medication are very high. He revealed that data collected from selected tertiary level institutions with prevalence to self-medication was about 70%. He further cited some antibiotics that were used in self-medication among tertiary level students such as Amoxicillin with 33%, Penicillin with 32% and Gentamicin with 14%. He related that some of the reasons for which many opted for self-medication with antibiotics were because it was less expensive and the long delays at clinics and hospitals.

Laying stress on S. pneumoniae vaccines, Prof. Sampane-Donkor outlined two types of pneumo vaccines being Pure Polysaccharide Vaccine (PPV) and Conjugate Vaccines (PCV). He added that PPV has 23 serotypes and PCV comprises 7-13 serotypes. He further disclosed that the vaccine that was introduced in 2012 in Ghana to reduce lots of mortality rate in children was PCV13.

In his concluding remarks, Prof. Sampane-Donkor acknowledged that there was no clear winner in the battle between Man and Pneumococcus. He, however, added that pneumococcus was determining the pace and direction of the war between the two. He also suggested the need for an improved pneumococcal vaccine and improved surveillance of pneumococcal disease.

In her remarks, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, Vice-Chancellor of the University and Chairperson for the occasion, advised all Ghanaians on the public health impacts such as drug abuse and its implications for pharmaceutical regulation and practice, as well as the clinical and health care delivery. She advocated for the need for increased research in the medical field.

                                                                Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo 

A number of presentations were made to Prof. Sampane-Donkor to congratulate him on his achievement

                                        Family of Prof. Eric Sampane-Donkor making a presentation after the lecture

The Inaugural Lecture was attended by the Pro-Vice-Chancellors, Provosts, Deans, Directors, members of the University community, family members, Prof. Sampane-Donkor’s network of corporate and social groups, as well as the general public. Also present was a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah.

                                                                          Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah

The Ghana Dance Ensemble also graced the occasion with cultural performances as well as seperewa appellation to herald the lecturer.

                          A seperewa appellation to herald the lecture was performed by the Ghana Dance Ensemble

As a prelude to the Inaugural Lecture, the University of Ghana Library System (UGLS) organised a week long exhibition of Prof. Sampane-Donkor’s academic publications at the Balme Library.  The exhibition centered his research on epidemiology, pathogenesis, and evolution of microbial pathogens; antimicrobial resistance and infection control; food safety and environmental health and non-communicable diseases and infectious agents among several other publications.

                            Prof. Eric Sampane-Donkor speaking at the opening of an exhibition of his scholarly works


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