Meet The Ghana Team

COUNTDOWN Team in GHS

 

 

Dr Nana-Kwadwo Biritwum - Country Manager

Dr Biritwum is a leading player in NTD control in sub-Saharan Africa and a well-known international advocate. As the NTD Programme Manager in Ghana, Dr Biritwum’s leadership secured the development of the NTD 2-year strategic plan, 5-year strategic plan and now the NTD Master Plan. Internationally, he has contributed to the development of several WHO policy documents in relation to preventive chemotherapy and transmission control and has co-authored several scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Dr Biritwum has successfully overseen and managed NTD control and elimination programmes funded by USAID, DFID, LSTM/CNTD, CDC, Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases/Taskforce for Global Health, Gates Foundation, WHO/APOC, WHO/AFRO, WHO/HQ. His services are also in demand to provide technical assistance and capacity building outside of Ghana, for example, to Kenya, The Gambia, Zambia and Liberia in planning and management of NTD control. Along with NTDs, Dr Biritwum has worked closely with other disease control programmes: HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Family Health, Tuberculosis.

He was awarded the NTDs Champions Award in 2012 by the US Government through USAID and is set to play an important role in providing a strong working platform for multidisciplinary research in Ghana with COUNTDOWN.

 

Dr Dziedzom de Souza - Country Deputy Manager 

Dr de Souza is a research fellow with the Parasitology Department of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana.

He has a PhD in Theoretical and Applied Biology (Biological Sciences), with interests in the molecular biology and control of disease vectors and parasites. His work focuses mostly on Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) epidemiological and entomological assessments for the endgame elimination activities.

Dr de Souza has been instrumental in conducting field entomological surveys and trainings in the context of LF evaluations in Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo.

He also has interests in other NTDs, malaria and the effects of climate change on disease transmission and control.

Adriana Opong - COUNTDOWN Research Uptake & Communications Officer

Adriana has nearly seven years practical experience in the health research environment, with an MSc. Health Promotion degree from the University of East London (MSc. HP UEL), B.Ed Primary Education University of Cape Coast. Adriana Opong’s health research career began at Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Legon Accra.

Adriana has gained expertise in research project management, particularly in the health sector and is a health promoter. She has coordinated sectoral, national and West African regional health research projects over the last four years, such as Institute of Infectious Diseases of Poverty (IIDP) a consortium of Anglophone and Francophone West African countries and Sustainable Sanitation Ghana Project (SUSA Ghana Project) with nearly seven years’ practical experience in the health research environment.

 

Nyameke Asuah- Kwasi - Monitoring & Evaluation /Administration

Nyameke is the administrator for the COUNTDOWN Programme, Ghana Project. She received her BSc Zoology degree and Masters of Public Health from the University of the Ghana, Legon. She has about four years working experience in the health sector and her career started from the Public Health Laboratory in Sekondi/ Takoradi to the National AIDS/STI Control Programme at the Kwesiminstim Hospital.

Nyameke worked with an NGO in Takoradi to form a support group for persons living with HIV/AIDS at the Kwesimintsim Hospital.

Her areas of interest include occupational health and safety, volunteering and cookery recipes.

 

Dr Bertha Garshong - Health Economics Lead

Dr Garshong who is based at GHS, leads the Health Economics component of the COUNTDOWN research in Ghana

 

Kwabena Asare - Assistant Health Economist

Kwabena holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Ghana. Since 2012, he has worked at the Dodowa Health Research Centre as a research officer .Kwabena had worked on various public health research projects including clinical trials, maternal and child health implementation research and costing studies among many others.

His areas of interest is health Economics research.

Kwabena currently works as a COUNTDOWN research officer on the health economics team. 

The health system in Ghana is managed by the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the main implementing body of the Ministry of Health with regional, district, sub-district and community levels. The Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) currently targeted by the NTD Programme are Trachoma, Lymphatic Filariasis, Onchocerciasis, Schistosomiasis and the Soil Transmitted Helminths. The main strategies are MDA, morbidity control (clinical management of complications) and public education. The overall goal of the NTD Programme is to eliminate these as diseases of public health problems and as an obstacle to socio-economic development. The MOH/GHS has the overall responsibility for policy formulation and strategic direction with the NTD programme management providing leadership for the control and elimination of these diseases.

One of the guiding principles is inter-sectoral collaboration and partnership for the development and implementation of the programme. The MOH/GHS collaborates with the Ministries of Local Government & Rural Development (MLGRD), Education (MOE), Food & Agriculture (MoFA), Water Resources Works & Housing (MWRWH), Finance & Economic Planning (MoFEP), to implement most of its activities and thereby ensuring higher coverage. The Government allocation to the health sector is still below the Abuja recommendation of 15%. The bulk of the government allocation is spent on health workers’ salaries, infrastructure and biomedical supplies. Other sources of funding for the health sector are Development Partners, International NGOs, and private sector organizations.

The GHS and therefore the NTD Programme continues to suffer from inadequate budgetary provision and irregular flow of funds hampering research, planning and implementation. Improved collaboration and partnership with donors like DFID in the area of research will provide additional technical, logistical and financial support and also sharpen the tools for elimination in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa.

The programme priorities for the next three years are to ensure complete geographic coverage of all the endemic areas while achieving total eligible coverage of all the endemic populations for both onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. Delineation of hypo-endemic areas for onchocerciasis will be undertaken for treatment with ivermectin as part of the elimination strategies for onchocerciasis. The programme will also pursue its exit plan for lymphatic filariasis elimination. Surveys will be conducted to identify all hotspots for both lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis and implement complementary strategies to ensure elimination of lymphatic filariasis by 2020. Post-mass drug administration surveillance for lymphatic filariasis will be conducted for areas that pass the transmission assessment surveys and stopped treatment for lymphatic filariasis while monitoring endemicity of onchocerciasis.

At the national level there are about 10 full-time staff that belong to the NTD team. The programme also receives support from the director-general, the director of public health, the head of disease control and other administrative staff of the Ghana Health Service headquarters. Each of the 10 regions of Ghana has an NTD coordinator dedicated to NTD activities at the regional level under the supervision and support of the Regional Director of Health Services and Deputy Director of Public Health. Each of the 216 districts also has a disease control officer who is a technical person who directly oversees all activities of the programme at the district level while working with the District Public Health nurse, the sub-district head and other community health nurses to implement these community based programmes.

The Ghana NTD Programme will contribute to COUNTDOWN research and research uptake by prioritising research questions and the personnel and field study sites and communities for the Implementation Research. Development of joint approaches to problem-solving and capacity building for designed strategies will be supported. Areas of under-performance will be identified and addressed. Ensuring access to high quality up-to-date information to enable evidence based decision making about elimination and knowledge sharing to maximise behaviour change and effective programme implementation. Through this project the programme should be able to demonstrate the capacity of national NTD teams, health workers and communities to achieve sustainable health gains through research uptake.

COUNTDOWN Social Science Theme

 

Dr Margaret Gyapong - Ghana Social Science Lead

She has an interest in health systems, implementation research, Demographic Surveillance, tropical diseases and gender. She has several publications in and is a reviewer for several international journals.

She serves on a number of National and international committees and task forces and has a part time faculty appointment with the University of Ghana, and adjunct professorial appointments with the Brunel University in the UK and Georgetown University in the USA where she serves as an Adjunct Professor in the International Health Program. 

Dr Gyapong is the Social Science theme lead in Ghana for the COUNTDOWN programme and leads the social science working group of the INDEPTH Network. In the last 22 years, she has contributed to setting up of the Lymphatic Filariasis Control programme in Ghana, building research capacity for district and regional health management teams. She started and continues to maintain a Health and Demographic Surveillance System in the Dodowa Health Research Centre.

 

Sheila Addei - Social Scientist

Sheila is a Principal Research Officer at the Dodowa Health Research Centre (DHRC). She has a background in social sciences is currently the coordinator of the Qualitative Research Unit of the DHRC.

She has led the center’s qualitative team in the last ten years to design and conduct qualitative research for several studies undertaken by the DHRC.

In the last four years she has also coordinated studies on social determinants of health and maternal and child health.

 

The Dodowa Health Research Centre (DHRC) in relation to COUNTDOWN, handles the Social Science stream of research work in Ghana.

Dodowa was created as part of the agreements between the Government of Ghana and the British Oversees Development Agency (now DFID) to have an operation research satellite station in the early 1990‟s to serve the southern belt of Ghana, with the mandate to conduct health research work with the aim of guiding decision-making and policy development with GHS.

Dodowa Health Research Centre is placed in Dodowa, the district capital of the then Danmbe West district (now Shai-Osudoku and Ningo-Prampram districts since July 2012) of the Greater Accra Region, Ghana .

The main specialties of Dodowa Health Research Centre are Malaria Operations Research, Implementation Research and Maternal and Child Health . In 2005, the research centre set up a Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) this HDSS covers an area of 1,528.9 km2 and is the core activity of the centre.

Staff strength for the centre is about 144. The background of the technical staff are Medical Anthropology, Sociology, Epidemiology, Public health, Health Informatics, Field Epidemiology, Demography and Population studies, Medical Statistics and Data management.

 

 

Vida Kukula - Social Scientist

Ms Kukula is a Principal Nursing Officer (Midwifery) with a Masters degree in Public Health from the School of Public Health, Legon.

Since joining the Ghana Health Service Research Center at Dodowa as a researcher in 2010, she has successfully coordinated several studies including Phase 3 and 4 clinical trials, cohort studies, Social Science research (Implementation research) using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

She has attended and presented at various national and international conferences on the various researches that I have been involved in.

Currently, Ms Kukula co-coordinates the social science aspect on COUNTDOWN.

 

SOLOMON AYERTEY NARH-BANA

I am a field Epidemiologist with the Dodowa Health Research Centre. I work as a health researcher and now with much concentration on data processing.  I have successfully coordinated several studies at the Centre; from cross sectional studies to randomized controlled trials and implementation studies. I hold an MSc in Medicine in the field of Population-Based Field Epidemiology from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. I had previously worked as a District Health Information Officer with Ghana Health Service. Currently I am the data manager on COUNTDOWN.

 

IRENE HORNAM TSEY - Research Officer

Irene is the Administrator/Researcher for the Dodowa Health Research Centre Institutional Review Board.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is currently a final year postgraduate student in Health Research Ethics at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

Currently, Irene is the lead research officer for the Lymphatic Filariasis study on COUNTDOWN.

 

SABINA ASSIAMAH

Sabina is a Senior Public Health Officer with the Dodowa Health Centre.

She has been working with the Dodowa health Research Centre for the past 2 and half years in charge of the Communication Unit.

Sabina has been involved in a number of studies that have gone on at the centre including studies on COUNTDOWN. She also worked with the Ghana Health Service at the then Damgbe West District now the Shai-Osudoku District for 16 years as the District Disease Control Officer.

Currently she is a senior moderator for qualitative interviews on COUNTDOWN.

COUNTDOWN Team in CSIR

Dr Mike Yaw Osei-Atweneboana - Ghana Diagnostics Lead

Dr Osei-Atweneboana's is a Senior Research Scientist for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ghana.  His expertise includes Medical Parasitology, Entomology, Epidemiology and Molecular Biology.

He uses his expertise to investigate drug efficacy and responses of parasitic nematodes to anthelmintic drugs and Plasmodium spp to anti-malaria drugs; understanding the mechanisms and genetics of drug resistance in Onchocerca volvulus, soil-transmitted nematodes and other parasitic nematodes; development of molecular diagnostic tools (genetic markers) for early detection of drug resistance and using molecular epidemiological approaches to investigate the feasibility of elimination of neglected tropical diseases.

He is team leader for the Medical Parasitology/Entomology and Molecular Epidemiology Research Group of the Department of Environmental Biology & Health. He leads a research group to carry out research and development activities including deliverables to facilitate the control and elimination of water-borne diseases and other infectious diseases.

Dr Osei-Atweneboana also sits on the Management Team of ARNTD (The African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases)

He has studied the impact of mass drug administration (MDA) with Albendazole and Ivermectin on the health status of children and pregnant women and the efficacy of Albendazole against Soil-transmitted Helminthiasis (STH) infections. He trains post-graduate students from both the CSIR and the Universities in Ghana.

The Council for Scientific & Industrial Research Water Research Institute (CSIR-W RI) is the foremost science and technology organization in Ghana. The mandate of the CSIR-WRI in broad terms is to pursue the implementation of government policies on scientific research and development. CSIR-WRI research programmes cover a wide range of activities in the following areas: Industry, Agriculture, Agro-processing, Fisheries, Forestry, Water Resources, Human Settlement Infrastructure, Environment, Health, Natural and Social Sciences. The CSIR has 13 constituent research institutes including CSIR-Water Research Institute (CSIR-WRI).