T-REC launch meeting: Ghana

 T:REC Consortium, From left to right: Radhi Chickwereti, Tonderai Mapako, Alison Dunn, Imelda Bates, Joyce Aponsah, Justina Ansah,
Daniel Ansong, Sue Purnell, Rene Van Hulst, Susan Jones, Ib Christian Bygbjerg, David Mvere, Shirley Owusu-Ofori, Tracy Seddon


In Accra, Ghana on 5-6 July 2011, the T-REC consortium met for the first time to discuss and plan future activities.

The first morning of the event was dedicated to introducing the aims and purpose of T-REC to a range of people, including many health professionals and researchers from within Ghana’s medical institutions in Accra and Kumasi.

 “Blood transfusion it is a hugely important issue for all health services and it is very expensive so we have to get it right. It is neglected in terms of having evidence based practice” said Imelda Bates, Principal Investigator and Project Leader, from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

A representative from the Ministry of Health Ghana was present and welcomed the team to Ghana. “The Ministry of Health Ghana is wholly behind T-REC. The Ministry is in the process of developing a whole agency in charge of blood transfusion. The fashion is towards evidence-based medicine and in Ghana we now discourage the transpolation of evidence which has come from another part of the world” said Dr. Ahmed Zacharia, Director of the Ambulance service and representative of the Minister of Health, Hon. Joseph Yieleh Chereh.

The partners in T-REC are Ghana Blood Transfusion Service, National Blood Transfusion Service Zimbabwe, African Society for Blood Transfusion, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK, University of Copenhagen, Denmark and the University of Groningen, Netherlands. The consortium discussed T-REC management and governance structures, and planned the implementation of the five work packages. In the afternoon, the team visited the Accra Blood Transfusion Centre to meet with staff and witness the challenges that the service faces.

During the second day, the consortium discussed synergies and interactions with other projects and agreed to make efforts to link with other agencies working in blood related topics such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, and paediatrics.

The consortium explored communication processes and strategies including the website, how to get research findings into policy and practice, blood transfusion guidelines, and how to better engage the public with blood transfusion issues in Africa.

“Blood transfusion is an essential component of modern health care which saves millions of lives each year” said Dr Justina Ansah, Director of the National Blood Service in Ghana. She continued, “Although the need for blood is universal, in Africa and the developing world, the pattern of blood usage differs markedly from that of the Western World. It is important we have an evidence base to make sure we get our blood services right in Africa, not using things that have only been tried and tested in the Western world.”

We broke into small teams and discussed the five work packages, making detailed action plans for activities during the next eighteen months and beyond. We will work in three main ways: through funding and supervising three Ghanaian and Zimbabwean PhD students to research blood transfusion services in their countries. T-REC also provides small bursaries to 60 local graduate and postgraduate students in medicine, science, social sciences and media to focus on blood transfusion as an area of study. Finally, we support 42 local blood transfusion staff to undertake a Professional Diploma in Project Design and Management (DPDM). This means providing training for a one-year, in-post research project to improve transfusion services to meet the needs of the local population.

T-REC aims to integrate research into the mainstream activities of blood transfusion organisations. We hope to strengthen research systems, infrastructure and networks within and between blood transfusion services and academic institutions in Africa and internationally.

On 7 July, the project leaders within each country interviewed candidates for the PhD programme.