Yvonne Commodore-Mensah, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, traveled to Kumasi, Ghana, in January in preparation for launching her Alliance-funded research into treating hypertension in the region.
The rates of cardiovascular diseases and stroke in Sub-Saharan Africa have surged recently because of poor diagnosis and inadequate treatment and control of key risk factors such as hypertension (high blood pressure). Commodore-Mensah’s project, called ADHINCRA, addresses the gaps in management and treatment of hypertension in residents of Ghana, located on the western coast of the continent.
“We are passionate about the sustainability of this intervention, and when we met with stakeholders, a common theme in our conversations was that they feel like a lot of academic institutions in the U.S. and Europe come in and run their trials and then they leave and they never hear back from them,” Commodore-Mensah said during a recent presentation on her project.
“So we want this to be a definite relationship and we want to lay the groundwork for long-term collaboration with these institutions. And ideally we don’t want this project to end in Ghana; we would love to adapt the intervention to other Sub-Saharan African countries.”
The study’s name and logo were inspired by the Ghanaian Adinkra symbol that means “Akoma Ntoaso,” (linked hearts) and is a symbol of unity and agreement.
“Because this project is a collaboration between Johns Hopkins University and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology in Ghana, we thought it was an appropriate logo for the project,” said Commodore-Mensah, who was born in Ghana.
She was joined on the site visit by Lisa Cooper, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in Health Equity and Director of the Center for Health Equity, and Nancy Molello, program director for Operations and Strategic Initiatives at the Center. The three met with co-principal investigator, Fred Stephen Sarfo, who is a neurologist, researcher and educator at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology.
During the trip they held meetings with key stakeholders to elicit feedback on the proposed intervention and identify strategies to scale up the intervention.
The key stakeholders include:
Daniel Ansong, Dean of the School of Medical Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)
Ellis Owosu-Dabo, Dean of the School of Public Health, KNUST
Emmanuel Tinkorang, Ashanti Regional Director at Ghana Health Services
Baafour Kofi Opoku, Medical Director, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital
Joshua Arthur, Head of Public Health, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital
While in Kumasi, the ADHINCRA team also met with representatives from Medtronic Labs at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, where Medtronic demonstrated the Empower Health platform, which consists of a tablet and mobile phone application designed to support hypertension management. The meeting was instrumental for the team to view the app in action, and to determine whether the app was suitable for the project. The team has decided to move forward with the partnership and secure a contract with Medtronic Labs.
“They had an app that was pilot tested in Kumasi,” Commodore-Mensah said, “so I think the stars were aligned at the right time.”