On Tuesday, 13 October 2015, the Research and Development Division of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), in collaboration with the Dodowa Health Research Centre (DHRC), organized a High Level Stakeholder Meeting on Implementation Research and Health Research Agenda Setting in Ghana at the City Escape Hotel in Accra. In attendance was Dr. Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, Director General of GHS, Dr. Gloria AsareQuansah, Deputy Director General of GHS, representatives from WHO/TDR, USAID, JICA, CSIR, Ghana Statistical Service, and other program managers from the GHS. The meeting was chaired by former GHS Deputy Director General, Dr. Sam Adjei.
The purpose of the meeting was to review implementation research initiatives in the country and to develop the five-year health research agenda. Dr. Margaret Gyapong, director of DHRC, presented on the history of research capacity building initiatives in the Ghana Health Service, with a special focus on the WHO/TDR IMPACT grant for RCS4FIVE (Research Capacity Strengthening 4 Five Regions) and the Access and Delivery Partnership Project. Mr. Adams Agbeko of the RCS4FIVE Team Volta presented an assessment of the implementation of the long-standing efforts in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in the Volta Region. Next, Dr. NiiNortey Hanson Nortey gave another spotlight presentation on identifying and mitigating challenges to low tuberculosis screening among people living with HIV in ART clinics in Ghana. He explained that currently, the prevalence of TB within the HIV community in Ghana isnot widely recognized, and the rates of screening and therapy are low. Deputy Director General of GHS Dr. Gloria Asare Quansah summarized the importance of this type of implementation research (IR), and emphasized the necessity of input from stakeholders on the way forward with IR in Ghana.
After a short break, meeting participants were split into their respective groups (GHS Directors, GHS Deputy Directors, research institutions, schools of public health, program managers, regional directors and development partners) and had one-hour facilitated group discussions on the draft research agenda. These discussions focused on whether any additional information or broad research topics need to be included in the health research agenda. The research topics included in the agenda are in service of the previously defined Six Health Sector Broad Objectives: bridging equity gaps in access; sustainable health financing, especially for the poor; improving governance management inefficiency; improving quality of mental health services; enhancing national capacity for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and sustaining the gains; and preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases and certain communicable diseases. The groups reconvened and shared the many ideas formed in discussion. Some common suggestions included incorporation of SDG indicators of progress, further development of the National Health Insurance Scheme to enhance health equity, production of funding from within the health sector, and a mandate that each health program should have a research aspect, as to improve funding opportunities and strengthen the capacity of research facilities.