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Wessex - Ghana Stroke Partnership 

Stroke disease in Ghana has been of increasing concern since the mid to late 20th century, in association with the developing westernisation of diet and lifestyle.  In the capital city region of Accra, stroke is now attributed as the second largest cause of death and until recently there was no organised stroke care, despite overwhelming evidence of the benefit.      

In 2009 a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals working in stroke care across Wessex joined with the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Accra, to form an international health partnership with the aim of sharing knowledge of stroke management.  Since that time we have been supported by grants from Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET), NHS Education South Central and the BMA/RCN.

Our partnership has developed through multiple visits from the UK to Ghana and a successful visit for the 3 clinical stroke leads of Medicine, Nursing and Physiotherapy from Accra to the UK.   Health professionals in the UK come from across Wessex and we are hosted by Southern Health Foundation Trust.

The partnership work has been pivotal in increasing awareness of the benefits of multi-disciplinary stroke care.  Progress and enthusiasm of the project teams in the UK and Ghana helped to secure the opening of a Stroke Unit at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in January 2014. 

During 2011-14 the focus has been on clinical skills for stroke patients.   The 4 core areas of

  • manual handling and positioning,
  • continence,
  • swallow and nutrition and
  • communication post stroke

were agreed and training developed with the Ghanaian team.  Family education has also been developed. 3 stroke leads were identified within KBTH and a ‘Train the Trainers’ approach has been used.

We have recently been successful in securing further funding from THET.  This is to extend beyond the core skills to additional skills, further develop multidisciplinary working and discharge planning and consider how post-discharge care might be developed.  During this phase we are also including development of leadership and quality improvement skills with the Ghanaian team.

Possible reasons for the success of our partnership include:

Cultural Awareness – we have strived to understand the practices, values and beliefs of our partners, supporting changes that are appropriate within the Ghanaian health system

Coaching and Embedding Skills – empowering the Ghanaian health professionals to develop their own roles and practice is fundamental, taking a ‘coaching’ rather than a ‘teaching’ route.  A strong emphasis has been placed upon embedding relatively few key skills, to ensure sustainability.

A consistent and dedicated team – members of the UK and Ghanaian tams have remained committed since 2009.  Embedding change is a slow, complex process requiring strong relations and communication.

Project Planning – robust project planning is essential, with action planning, outcome measurement and the production of review documents.  In our experience outside facilitation has been vital in supporting this.

Evaluating Impacts – accurate measurement of change is challenging in any project and it is no easier across continents!  Qualitative and quantitative data should be collected from day 1 to ensure baseline data from which to demonstrate the project’s impact

For further details or to comment on this project, please contact:

Dr Claire Spice


Or Louise Johnson, UK Project Administrator, at Bournemouth Hospital





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