U-M receives $3 million grant to strengthen health systems in Ghana

November 21, 2008
  • umichnews@umich.edu

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan has received a $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work with Ghanaian health experts and authorities to strengthen human resources for health in Ghana.

The U-M Center for Global Health (CGH), School of Public Health (SPH), and Medical School will collaborate with the University of Ghana, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and the Ghanaian Ministry of Health. The Ghanaian team is led by Peter Donkor, provost of the College of Health Sciences at KNUST, Aaron Lawson, provost of the College of Health Sciences at University of Ghana, and Eddie Addai, director of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Health.

The U-M Center for Global Health is a campus-wide effort to generate novel approaches using multi-directional collaborations to implement sustainable solutions that improve global health and redress health inequalities.

The U-M team on the grant is co-led by Thomas Robins, professor of occupational and environmental medicine at SPH, and Timothy Johnson, professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the U-M Medical School. Other members of the core U-M team include Rani Kotha in CGH, Margaret Kruk and Rachel Snow in SPH, and Frank Anderson, Ted Hanss, Cheryl Moyer, and Sarah Rominski in the Medical School.

The long-term goal of the project, called Human Resources for Health: A Learning Grant for Capacity Strengthening in Ghana, is to design a roadmap for academic and government collaborations to strengthen the training and deployment of health workers in Ghana.

The project team will focus on four areas: developing and improving data systems to ensure sound policy decision making, education and training of health professionals, strengthening research capacity to attract outside funding and retain top scholars, and developing a charter to use as model for collaboration.

“We believe that cross-country collaborations should be founded upon principles of co-equal partnership and transparency,” Robins said. “We intend to use this process to develop consensus based on these principles to not only guide our interactions, but also to serve as a guide for future collaborations.”

Africa has a shortfall of about 1 million health care workers, said Johnson, and Ghana is one of 45 countries with a severe shortage of health care workers and high overall mortality. However, Ghana’s underlying politico-economic conditions favor high-quality training and greater deployment of needed health workers.

Rani Kotha, deputy director of the Center for Global Health, said that the activities and findings of this two-year learning grant are intended to serve as a foundation for a subsequent, multi-year program of work. This larger program is expected to engage U-M faculty from across the university.

Similar to the United States, Ghana has many well-trained health care providers in its cities, but the rural areas are significantly underserved.

“These issues are cross-disciplinary problems that will not be solved by only looking at one facet,” Johnson said. “Medicine and public health are equally important to developing and maintaining strong health systems.”

The project evolved out of 20 years of collaboration among U-M and these same Ghanaian partners.


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