Your News & More

Your News & More

The Ebola Petition Gbi Viwo Did Not Serve: What They Said.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

PHOTO BY: Cellou Binani / Getty Images
It's been months since news got round that a vaccine trial for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was going to take place in Hohoe. We, Gbi Viwo Online Community, have followed this news steadily and expressed concerns right from the beginning, mainly because of how much information we thought was being held from the public.

As it became apparent that the people behind the
idea actually meant business and in fact, were getting ready to carry out the experiment, more critical questions arose amidst fears among the Gbi community, Hohoe Municipality and the public at large, that Ebola would be brought to Hohoe and Ghana for that matter. Whether these concerns are real or not needs to be addressed. The primary position we, Gbi Viwo, have since maintained is for our people to be adequately informed before any major steps toward this planned experiment are taken.

Ours, collectively, has not been a call to scrap the plan; at least, not up to this point. Instead, we've been calling for those leading this cause to take their case to members of our community in whichever way possible, explaining to them why they are confident that their community is not under any threat.

Attempts by us to reach people we believe to be at the center of this cause have however proven futile, leaving us virtually with no choice but to consider a petition.

One of the authorities we tried reaching, to a very disappointing outcome, is our Municipal Chief Executive, Dr. Margaret Kweku. We were informed that Dr. Kweku, who herself is a health scientist and a senior faculty member of the University of Health and Allied Sciences – the institution through which the experiment is expected to be carried out – was directly involved in its arrangement. The reason for contacting her therefore was to obtain from her information that we could share with our community members, using our platform.

It rather became obvious regrettably, that Professor Fred Binka and his team don't think that ordinary people, who form the bulk of our community, have any business caring about what goes on in this community with regard to a subject that may be considered so far removed from their expertise. The approach consequently adopted by these leaders is talking to a few selected people they consider important in our community and counting on the consent of these few to proceed with the experiment; not on their ability to help inform their community members.

We've had notable outcries across Ghana in the last week regarding this subject, and this has pushed some experts in the field of science to hold discussions online on the subject and through other communication channels, aimed at enlightening the public. Surprisingly, the one group that has done nothing even in the wake of these outcries is Professor Binka and his crew. And sadly, the one group that has received no particular attention from any of these experts are those living in the Hohoe and surrounding areas.

Considering the notorious history of vaccine trials across the globe and how terrifying one related to Ebola can be to an inadequately informed community in a country that never recorded a case of this deadly disease, we don't think that the concerns of our people are unreasonable. We therefore vehemently reject the attitude of Professor Binka and his team. And, we demand that they do the responsible thing by coming forward to address the concerns of our community members before taking any further steps toward the experiment, should the suspension ordered by the health minister be reversed.

Don't just tell us the vaccine is safe and don't just give us examples of other Ebola-free communities in Africa where the experiment has been done. Address the concerns of our community members to calm them down, if their fears are indeed baseless.

Below are just some of the questions we've been asking, to which we demand answers:

• Does this vaccine have Ebola virus in it? What is the vaccine made of?

• Why is Hohoe a better place for this experiment when an Ebola center worth GHC 6,000,000.00, sponsored by the government of Ghana, has been put up in the Greater Accra region, attached to the Tema General Hospital?

• We are told that participants will each receive GHC200 plus a cell phone. GHC200 equals less than $50. a) Where is this compensation coming from b) How much money is being provided for this study and who chose this amount and the cell phones as compensation for the Hohoe volunteers?

• Do the researchers involved in the planned experiment agree that the only real test of the vaccine is the experiment carried out among healthcare workers who treat actual Ebola patients? If so, of what use would the volunteers in Hohoe be if they don't go on to treat Ebola patients after being vaccinated?

• Why are we continuing this trial if we are to go by what promoters of the cause have been saying, that satisfactory results have been obtained from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea?

• Some of us are aware of the case where a particular Ebola vaccine that had no side effects in one group of participants, produced noticeable side effects in another group. This led to the halting of the experiment in Switzerland in December 2014. Can the researchers involved in the Hohoe experiment explain to us what happened in Switzerland and why they believe the vaccine intended for the Hohoe study is completely safe?

• Are there any provisions in place to cater for people who volunteer to be used for this study if the drugs affect their health adversely, or are they going to be on their own? What are the provisions, if any?

A lot has been said about why the people of Hohoe have no case. One of the arguments we've heard is that, volunteering to be used for this study is completely private, and so the cry of the bulk of our community members is baseless. We reject this argument and demand that before any further steps are taken by the learned professor and his crew, they do the following:

1. Publish an op-ed in the daily graphic, sharing their expert knowledge on the subject in details with Ghanaians, paying particular attention to the people of Gbi Dzigbe and Hohoe Municipality.

2. Make appearances in the two radio stations in Hohoe: Lolonyo FM and Heritage FM, to further break down the points raised in the op-ed and to answer questions from community members in a phone in program.

3. Hold at least, one town hall meeting with the people of Hohoe to address their concerns, to reduce the tension that continues to build around this subject.

Last but not the least, we want to say without mincing words, that we detest the secrecy with which Professor Binka and his team have handled the issue regarding Ebola vaccine trials in Hohoe and we demand that they start opening up on the subject to our people without further delay.

Written in June (2015)


  1. It seems our chiefs,pastors are not helping us . Please,please and please if we can talk to our people what we know and the risk involve in this EVD to help them live .Thanks

  2. Let's keep the pressure on Professor Binka and his team as well. They are the ones heading this trials and the ones who should be answering the most critical questions.