Contributing to better fish disease diagnostics capacity in Ghana

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute (NVI) has contributed to the establishment of a national reference laboratory for fish histopathology and training facilities in Ghana. It is the first fish histopathology laboratory of its kind in the West African sub-region.

This initiative was made possible through the NVI-Norad knowledge partnership on the Ghana Fish for Development project.

-The overall objective of the initiative is to establish a lab for histopathology and to train fish veterinarians, scientists, and laboratory technicians to adopt histopathological techniques for better disease diagnosis. The aim is also to improve the research capacity to sustain the aquaculture industry in the region, says NVI senior advisor Dr. Kofitsyo Cudjoe, who coordinated the establishment of a National Reference Laboratory for Fish Histopathology at the Small Animal Teaching Hospital (SATH), hosted by the University of Ghana.

Histopathology equipment installation and training

Miroslava Hansen, a senior engineer at NVI, was the lead expert responsible for installing the histopathology equipment, and providing firsthand training to selected SATH laboratory technicians. The training of laboratory technicians was followed by a 10-day intensive course in fish histopathology, conducted by lead trainer Trygve Poppe from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, with support from NVI researchers Ole Bendik Dale, Shimaa Ali, and Jacob Zornu.

During the course, the participants received instructions in fish anatomy and necropsy, gained hands-on techniques in sample collection, preservation, and processing. By the end of the course, trainees were able to differentiate between normal and abnormal tissues, and became familiar with major pathognomonic lesions in fish tissues. 

Milestone, impact, and future expectations

- To the best of our knowledge, the established fish histopathology laboratory in Ghana is the first of its kind in the West African sub-region. The laboratory holds a lot of potentials to supplement other diagnostic methods in providing disease diagnosis services for fish and other animals in West Africa and beyond, adds Cudjoe.

While the participants with veterinary background had prior exposure to theoretical histopathology, the course was complementary in exposing them to the intricacies of practical histopathology. -I was blind, but now I can see, was a feedback from one of the participants, as a testimony on the course impact.

Stakeholders from the University of Ghana and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development have expressed gratitude to NORAD for providing financial resources that facilitated the transfer of knowledge and expertise from NVI to improve aquatic animal health. The Histopathology Centre taking ground as a National Reference Laboratory is expected to expedite the diagnosis of diseases in fish and other animals through accurate and precise diagnosis both locally and internationally.

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