The aim of G-WAC is to establish a German-West African Centre for Global Health and Pandemic Prevention based at the KNUST-College of Health Sciences in Kumasi, Ghana, that will address the existential threat of global pandemics to the health and welfare of people through trans- and inter-disciplinary research projects targeting both the main drivers of pandemics (e.g. health impact of wild habitat encroachment, extensive agriculture and climate change, spillover of pathogens from wild animals to humans) and the key pillars of resilient health systems in the WHO framework (e.g. effective governance, sustainable financing mechanisms, appropriate human resource capacity, availability of essential medicines and technology, reliable health information, and responsive health service delivery) using One Health approaches.
G-WAC draws on international experience and expertise of three main partners and a broad international network: (1) College of Health Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), (2) Berlin School of Public Health, including Technische Universität Berlin (TUB) and Charité Universitätsmedizin - Berlin, and (3) Medical Faculty and University Hospital Bonn (UKB). The partners contribute complementary expertise in health systems/health economics, virology/diagnostics, bacteriology/parasitology, epidemiology and surveillance, community engagement/social sciences, digital health, and zoonoses. In addition, the partners have strong collaborative ties with FU Berlin (Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and Institute of Microbiology and Epizootics) to broaden the research scope of the Centre in areas, which are increasingly recognized as critical to generate knowledge to inform the development and implementation of interventions addressing pandemic preparedness from a “One Health” perspective. Furthermore, the RKI will contribute practical expertise and experience to facilitate the transfer of research results into policy and practice and vice versa. Finally, LSHTM-Berlin office will contribute its broad expertise and networks. G-WAC involves a variety of international stakeholders (research, policy, society); starting with over 20 partners.
G-WAC aims to achieve five main outcomes/objectives:
Outcomes will be achieved through the following specific results of measures/activities (outputs):
G-WAC is implementing a wide range of measures/activities. G-WAC will set up a joint management and evaluation structure and a cross-sectoral, international advisory board. G-WAC will provide full-time PhD scholarships for fourteen Ghana-based PhD students who will benefit from multi-disciplinary supervision by German and Ghanaian researchers. The project will develop and deliver a series of short coursesin Pandemic Prevention/Preparedness and provide scholarships for West-African policy makers, practitioners, and researchers. G-WAC sets up a bi-directional mobility scheme for PhD and MSc students, and postdoctoral level researchers. In addition, G-WAC will host Germany-based PhD students for research stays (3 months), and support (including stipends) will be made available to high-potential African researchers/PhD students from outside of Ghana for research stays (3 months) at the G-WAC in Ghana. Furthermore, G-WAC will organize biennial West-African Policy Dialogues on Pandemic Prevention/Preparedness anda major international conference (e.g. a World Health Summit Regional Meeting).
Thescientific concept of G-WACis based on a One Health approach. More specifically, research and teaching will focus on One Health approaches that can contribute to mitigating the drivers of pandemics and strengthen health systems’ responses to pandemics as well as cross-cutting issues, such as gender, community engagement, ethics and equity; leadership and knowledge integration; and big data for evidence and prediction. Specific research questions will be defined in collaboration of all involved partners (including policy makers and practitioners) during the first six months of project implementation, prior to admission of the first PhD students, and will draw on existing approaches and expertise from several of the partner’s complimentary areas of expertise. Interdisciplinary supervision of PhD students by researchers with different backgrounds and expertise in Germany and Ghana will be facilitated through regular (digital) interaction.
G-WAC creates optimal conditions for (international) networking; the partners will leverage strong existing collaborative ties with national, regional, and global networks to achieve maximum visibility. G-WAC builds on existing close working relationships with relevant stakeholders within the Ghana health system, including the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, and the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), and strengthen its networks with policy-makers and practitioners in the region, e.g with colleagues of the WHO Regional Office for Africa, the African Health Observatory Platform on Health Systems and Policies (AHOP), the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI), and the Africa Centers for Disease Control (CDC). G-WAC willenable KNUST to expand its collaboration with the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA) andwith colleagues of AvH research hubs and otherpartners, e.g. in Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo, Tanzania and South Africa. Also, links with colleagues of AHOP National Centres in Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Senegal will be strengthened through research stays at G-WAC. Finally, G-WAC will contribute to creating synergies with other DAAD centres by inviting researchers to short-courses or policy-dialogues, opening up short-courses and modules for students at other centres, and setting up an annual digital symposium for researchers at DAAD Centres for Global Health and Pandemic Preparedness to facilitate cross-institutional networking as well as to increase visibility of the programme.