PhD programme: Lucy Asamoah-Akuoko

Lucy Asamoah-Akuoko is a medical practitioner in Accra, Ghana. She began her PhD work in 2012 to research appropriate strategies to encourage repeat blood donations among first-time voluntary and replacement donors in Ghana.

Lucy is using a mixed- method approach, combining rigorous qualitative and quantitative methods to identify and quantify the determinants of blood donation behaviour in Ghana.

So far, she has attended and completed five PhD courses at the University of Copenhagen, carried out a pilot studies and completed data collection for both the qualitative and quantitative phases of her project. The pilot study was a telephone survey on the first-time blood donor return in order to calculate the sample size for her project. The findings showed that 15.2 percent of the first-time donors that were surveyed indicated that they had returned to donate blood. Even though it is not possible to generalise from this result, it is a good indicator of the first-time blood donor return rate. Results from the qualitative phase indicated that cultural beliefs, such as using blood for rituals, are strong deterrents among those who do not currently donate. Another significant finding for all categories of donors that were interviewed, is that donating for a family member is a very strong motivator.

Lucy has disseminated her project protocol and preliminary findings in various fora including:

  • five international scientific congresses (the AfSBT congresses in Mauritius, 2012; Victoria Falls, 2014; Kigali 2016; and the ISBT congresses in Amsterdam, 2013; Dubai 2016).
  • three major presentations (the University of Copenhagen, 2012 and of Ghana, 2013, and at the National Congress of Blood Donors in Denmark, 2012).

Lucy says that developing African researchers means research projects in Africa will be formulated to address local priorities and critical issues, and that findings and recommendations will be linked directly to policy and practice. It also empowers local researchers to foster collaboration with other researchers within and between countries and exchange ideas. Overall, this promotes knowledge acquisition and evidence-based decision making at all levels.

It will also lead to a critical mass of trainers who can train and mentor other researchers. Lucy said, “T-REC aims to develop and network a critical mass of researchers who will spearhead research and continue developing research capacity building in Africa. Other aspects of research capacity building include improving institutional and regulatory frameworks, strengthening infrastructure and increasing investment to conduct research in Africa. To ensure that this is feasible and sustainable, the leadership of Blood Transfusion Services and Ministries of Health of African countries must commit to making research an integral part of Blood Transfusion Service activities and to supporting the researchers. Government support and commitment is also very critical, especially for the region of sub-Saharan Africa, where health research in most countries has an allocation of less than 0.5% of national health budgets.”

Lucy also hopes that T-REC will be extended over a longer period of time, arguing for the need for both local and external funding.

Dr. Lucy Asamoah-Akuoko, received the ‘Outstanding Female Doctor’ award in the Ghana Women’s Awards 2013.

 

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