About 20 health researchers and eleven journalists on Thursday started a workshop to strike a partnership for accurate publication of the works of researchers in order to influence both public and policy decisions in the country.
The workshop which is being organised by the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC) in the Upper East Region (UER), would discuss public health issues in Ghana and how to get the information to a wider audience.
It also aimed at raising awareness, creating the political will and to drive policy change and action at the community level through to the national stage.
The platform therefore provides an opportunity for health researchers to better communicate the results and importance of their research to journalists, and provide journalists with specific examples of how research findings are translated into national health policies.
The workshop would also educate participants on how the GHS translates research findings into policy and service provision, to save lives in areas such as the Upper East Region of the country.
Dr. Abraham Rexford Oduro, Director of NHRC, in an address noted that despite evidence that the Community Health Planning and Services (CHPS) approach could sharply reduce childhood mortality, and despite high level commitment to implementing it, the roll-out has been slow at both the district and regional levels of the country.
He attributed this to lack of leadership for CHPS at District and Regional levels, lack of national political commitment to the programme and lack of public understanding of the benefits of the programme.
Dr. Oduro said it was hoped that by the end of the programme, journalists would be better equipped not only to report on results of health researches, but also to conceive of their stories as advocacy platforms for maternal and child health issues.
Dr Koku Awoonor Williams, Regional Director of Health Services, explained that the Centre which became fully operational in national research in 1982, had been actively involved in various researches and activities including vaccines testing, training and capacity building for health researchers including epidemiologists, demographers, social scientists, data managers and analysts as well as clinicians.
He said the centre also operated a compressive demographic surveillance system which put the Kessena-Nankana District under surveillance.
He said the region which started with only 400 zones, currently had over 112 CHPS compounds which had achieved great success in reducing maternal and child mortality and morbidity rates, expanding family planning, providing wider access to health education and care in communities, and witnessing a drop in fertility rates, among others.
He said the region aimed at establishing a total of 187 CHPS compounds by 2015.
Dr. Williams however explained that, the Region in terms of the CHPS coverage was five times higher than the national average.
He argued that to accelerate CHPS implementation elsewhere in Ghana and support further progress in the Upper East Region, there was the need to bring great media attention to the health system improvements and research efforts in Ghana and their potential benefits to women and children, in order to achieve the stipulated targets of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
He however indicated that despite the tremendous achievement of the CHIPs in the Region, there were enormous challenges that confronted the NHRC such as core funding for research activities, competition for research grants and centres, retention of staff, maintenance of its basic research infrastructure, equipment and services such as water, communication systems and roads.
Dr. Williams used the occasion to thank all collaborators for their support over the past 25 years of the operation of the NHRC, which had since produced over hundreds of scientific journals and publications for the global community.**