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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

Developing a UK-Ghana Public Health Engagement & Policy Community of Practice


The aim of this project is to develop a UK-Ghana network that can influence policy and practice around community engagement in public health.
The University has an established and growing track record in public health research and knowledge exchange, including, but not limited to, LifeLab (Kath Townsend-Hall), the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (including Pi-I Pathik Pathak), and the Pathways to Health through Cultures of Neighbourhoods project (Joanna Sofaer, with Pathik Pathak and Mary Barker). The University has also strong links to public health research and KE in Ghana, including long-standing work by Michael Head, Jim Wright and others.
An emerging area of effective practice is community engagement in public health and health services research, which are vital to the efficacy and legitimacy of public heath research, yet frameworks are underdeveloped in countries such as Ghana. Community engagement is equally important for salutogenic as well as pathogenic related research and yet guidance and best practice is scarce. Given the volume and diversity of public health work taking place at Southampton, we are keen to build a community of practice in Ghana which can share best practice, develop guidelines for emerging research, and build our institutional capacity to deliver community engagement.


1) Identify existing expertise in public health community engagement - at UoS and at our Ghananian university partners University of Development Studies Tamale, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, and University of Health and Allied Sciences, Hohoe, Ghana
2) Baseline our understanding of community engagement and policy challenges and opportunities - through a seminar with colleagues from UoS, University of Development Studies Tamale and School of Public Health, University of Ghana in Accra (hosted by the University of Ghana), University of Health and Allied Sciences, Hohoe, Ghana and our NGO partners in Southampton and Ghana (February 2023)
3) Identify gaps in best practice – through a second seminar including university partners and NGO partners taking place during Spark Ghana (April 2023)
4) Develop a plan to address gaps in best practice -through future funding applications during our second seminar and follow-up virtual Zoom meetings between April and May 2023
5) Create a sustainable platform to maintain activities and leverage for long term funding streams
6) Guiding principles: create a set of working principles for public health community engagement to be shared among university partners


Local economy –there is evidence that improved public health (an outcome of community-engaged public health leads to better employability (Health Foundation, 2022). Employability is a challenge both in deprived wards such as SO14 in Southampton, but also throughout Ghana (especially Northern Ghana), where unemployment rates are rising for a young population (median age 20.7).
Reduction in underserved groups –Similarly, there is evidence that better community engagement necessitates engagement with underserved communities, which in turn should lead to better provision of public health among those communities. Our network will lead to improved and equitable relationships between UoS, NGOs and a range of policy and advocacy stakeholders in Ghana

Improvements in public health – There is a substantial body of evidence that shows better community involvement improves the quality of health provision (De Weger 2018,; Schiavo, 2021). Our project will lead to established networks in place for future advocacy, policy and research activity, ensuring that communities and frontline service-providers are involved in the design and delivery of public health interventions.

Role of Partner Organisations

Our partner organisation Songtaba will help us by making introductions to other public health NGOs in Northern Ghana.
PACKS Africa will help us by making introductions to public health NGOs in Southern Ghana and with policy makers in the Ghanaian government and the African Union.

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG3 - Good Health and Well-Being;SDG5 - Gender Equality;SDG10 - Reduced Inequalities ;SDG17 - Partnerships For the Goals.

Project Members

Project Lead: Pathik Pathak

Dr Michael Head

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