By Christabel Addo, GNA
Accra, Feb. 28, GNA - The Ghana Health Service (GHS), has launched a Weekly Epidemiological Report, a scientific publication, representing its official voice of the Service and that of the Ministry of Health in communicating critical wellness information to the public.
The GHS also inaugurated a 19-member Editorial Board, with the Director-General as the Patron, to produce quality information to help shape policy, promote the documentation, and dissemination of health delivery practices and outcomes, and other research findings on health in Ghana.
Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, GHS Director-General said, the Ghana Weekly Epidemiological Report (GWER), would showcase works of District Health Management Teams, those of trainee residents, medical and nursing students.
It would also include the entire scientific community, and also ensure the provision of accurate data on notifiable diseases and suggest strategies to address them.
He said the weekly publication, which would be subscribed to faculties of all Universities, Libraries, Health Training Institutions and Partners, would provide accurate and timely data on notifiable diseases for effective decision making and provide key information for researchers in drafting grant applications, as well as in analyzing and reporting their findings.
Dr Nsiah-Asare said the initiative, had been made possible with technical assistance from the United States CDC Foundation, and the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative, and that, contributions were opened to all service delivery personnel, researchers, trainees (young researchers and students among others.
He explained that the GWER builds on the work of its predecessor, the Ghana Weekly Epidemiological Bulletin, and joins the ranks of the Ghana Medical Journal and the Postgraduate Medical Journal of Ghana.
“We have already seen two examples of preliminary reports already published in the GWER, which involves the Puffer Fish poisoning in the Volta Region and the H1N1 epidemic at the Kumasi Academy”, and this, he said, made it possible to bring the science of the conditions affecting the population to the attention of the public as it happens.
Dr Nsiah-Asare expressed the hope that the older scientific journals would help nurture this new one and bring it to international repute, and urged all health workers, medical students and nurses to make use of the platform by sharing their contributions to the advancement of health worldwide.
He said the GWER was currently in discussions with a number of institutions, including the three Health Research Centres of the GHS at Navrongo, Kintampo and Dodowa, through the support of the headquarters of the Health Research and Development Division of the GHS, the Nursing and Midwifery School at Korle-Bu, and the School of Medicine and Dentistry.
He said the GWER in the months ahead would be conducting courses in Scientific Communication for selected staff of the Districts, and encouraged the Directors of all the GHS Divisions to share their works with the rest of the world.
Dr Kenneth Ofosu-Barko, the Editor-in-Chief of the GWER, said as part of its strategy, a website has been created and all editions of the Report, may be found on the site <gwer.ghanahealthservice.org>, while a GWER App, which would include Facebook and Twitter accounts were also being developed.
The vision he said, was to build a healthy nation through the effective use of data in publications of technical, high-visibility, high priority materials in each weekly edition and in the interim in its monthly outcomes of scientific articles.
Dr Nana Enyimayew, the Chairman of the Faculty of Public Health, the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, applauded the GHS and its partners for the successful launch of the Report, saying that, the College considered this platform as a crucial step in promoting sound policies, ensuring the timely dissemination of complete and accurate information, appropriately packaged for key decision makers.
He called for a stronger partnership with the GHS and its partners in developing “Colleges without Walls” using modern proven technologies and tools, while providing direct support to enable residents, wherever they may be located, to improve on the quality of research and analysis that would provide reliable materials for the GWER.
Dr David Ofori-Adjei, the Editor-in-Chief of the Ghana Medical Journal, pledged to lend their support and experience for the success of the GWER, saying “we expect your publication to be a source of reliable epidemiological data, analyzed and synthesized for public health decision making and policy direction”.
Dr Chastity L. Walker, the Programme Director of the Division of Global Health Protection Centre for Disease Control and Prevention at the US Embassy, commended the efforts that had birthed the official launch of the Report.
She however explained that the CDC’s overarching goal in support of surveillance activities was to get the right information into the right hands, at the opportune time, adding that, the “CDC Ghana look forward to our continued collaboration with the Ministry of Health/ Ghana Health Service to provide in-country technical assistance and support, data analysis, and epidemiological training”.
She said the CDC believed that this would help build workforce capacity and impart the tools and skills needed to gather critical data, turn it into action and improve the overall status of Ghana’s citizens.