Partners’ HPSR report – 2021
Twelve HPSR-related institutions were identified in Ghana: three of them in the capital, Accra, and the remainder spread across the country. Almost 60% are university-based, and the rest are composed of research centres under the Ghana Health Service (GHS), independent research centres, and think tanks.
The current HPSR landscape in Ghana is characterized by collaboration between policy-makers and researchers, and by capacity building that has included the establishment of new schools, courses and programmes for HPSR. Research studies have influenced several national health policies, including those on vitamin A supplementation in routine EPI programmes, community health and planning services, national health insurance, and malaria vaccine trials, to name a few. Many of the gains made in Ghana’s research-based policy have been the result of longstanding embedded implementation research that has involved communities, health managers, researchers and policy-makers.
Institutions by type
List of HPSR institutions
The number of HPSR-related reports published in Ghana rose from 96 in 2018 to 142 in 2019, and remained relatively steady in 2020, when 139 reports were published. Increasingly, more health research institutions are being established in Ghana, focused on research and capacity strengthening, and this is encouraging higher numbers of students to enrol in HPSR courses and carry out research in needed areas.
Ghana has had a rich history of health services research since 1990, and there are strong institutional arrangements for the coordination of research efforts through the Research and Development Division of the GHS. There are several coordinating structures led by the National Advisory Committee (NHAC), followed by steering committees, working groups, task teams, research networks, regional research teams, research centres and institutes. A health sector five-year Programme of Work is drafted every five years through collaborative efforts facilitated by these structures, and this Programme provides the focus areas for most research institutions. Furthermore, the GHS conducts a routine performance review that collates quarterly findings from district and regional health performance for an annual summit to report health service performance, challenges and research gaps. Health workers, managers, researchers and decision-makers are invited to participate.
Average number of reports produced per institution each year in Ghana and overall
Engaging policy-makers and the public
Policy uptake of research interventions has been influenced over many years through effective engagement between research institutions, government (both GHS and the Ministry of Health) and communities. Critical factors in success have been the engagement of different stakeholders prior to the onset of research studies that aim to respond to the needs of the health sector, and the continuous engagement of those stakeholders throughout the research process and the dissemination of the findings. In addition, the inclusion of health managers in research studies and the training of health workers in conducting research have contributed to ownership and buy-in.
The annual Health Summit, organized by the Ministry of Health (MOH), brings together health sector actors such as the GHS, research institutions, development partners, students and civil society organizations to deliberate the policy implications of recent research findings.
Average number of meetings held with policy-makers per institution each year in Ghana and overall
Average number of media articles published per institution each year in Ghana and overall
Academic and institutional capacity
Ghana has seen the expansion of HPSR departments, the establishment of new schools and the introduction of Master’s and PhD programmes in recent years. HPSR capacity has also been enhanced by the government’s offer of quotas for universities, enabling them to recruit more faculty members and researchers. In addition, the introduction of flexible schedules for health-sector staff enables them to combine their professional practice with teaching and training in HPSR.
The new schools include the Department of Public Health at the University of Cape Coast, and the School of Public Health and the Department of Health Services Policy, Planning, Management and Economics at the University for Development Studies. The University of Health and Allied Sciences has launched Master’s and PhD programmes in HPSR, while the University of Ghana has introduced the Master of Health Economics and Master of Public Health in Monitoring and Evaluation courses. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) introduced its MPhil in Health Systems Research and Management, MPhil in Field Epidemiology and Biostatistics and its MPH/MSc in Health Administration Management. The Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) has established a flexible health-administration management Master’s degree that offers evening, weekend, modular and sandwich programmes. Some institutions use internally generated funds to train staff and offer grants for research on areas such as HPSR.
This expansion of academic programmes has been accompanied by an increase in HPSR faculty, rising from 97 in 2018 to 132 in 2020. While the number of students on HPSR courses rose between 2018 and 2019, it fell in 2020, which can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
HPSR capacity has been supported by local and international partnerships. The University of Ghana and GIMPA work with the government to train mid-level staff for the MOH, GHS and faith-based health-service providers, offering fieldwork support to students from public and private institutions. The Ensign College of Public Health works with the University of Utah in the United States and local private organizations to enhance HPSR teaching and learning. KNUST partners with the Technische Universität Berlin in Germany to train PhD students. The World Health Organization has also provided technical assistance to schools, and UNICEF has offered HPSR textbooks to the School of Public Health, University of Ghana.
Total number of HPSR faculty and staff
Total number of participants in HPSR-related short courses
Ghana has no dedicated national budget for health research. The major sources of funds for HPSR in 2018-2020 were from international and local research grants, and internally generated funds (IGF) from institutions themselves. However, the government paid the salaries of research staff in public institutions, while staff salaries were covered by IGF in private institutions. IGF also contributed to the expansion of infrastructure and the payment of fees for visiting HPSR lecturers. The bulk of research funding came from external sources through partnerships established between Ghana’s public and private institutions and a range of international organizations, including: the European Union; the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada, the World Health Organization; the European Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnerships (EDCTP and EDCTP2); The United Kingdom Medical Research Council and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and the Wellcome Trust.
Total institutional expenditure
Credits and disclaimers
Partners’ health policy and systems research report, 2021
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