Salford student at the heart of Ghana’s coronavirus response

Categories: School of Health and Society

A PhD student from the University of Salford is helping to support the national coronavirus response in Ghana.

Lawrence Lartey (pictured) is an emergency room physician and was in his second year of study at the university, before taking a three-month interruption to be part of the team that is responding to the Covid-19 crisis. 

He said: “Working in the health care system in Ghana has been my passion ever since I completed medical school. Being in the emergency department where critical thinking and immediate action are constantly required has helped me to improve my approach. 
“During my studies at the University of Salford I developed an interest in public health practice: the processes that lead to public health decisions, and the actions and policies that influence health care.”

Lawrence is currently based at the headquarters of the Ghana Health Service/Disease Surveillance Department. His work involves handling suspected coronavirus cases where people are under mandatory quarantine, making sure these are followed up and laboratory tests are completed. 

He has also had the opportunity to contribute data and updates at a number of national coronavirus response meetings.

“As a developing country where health care is expensive, prevention is the best approach” he explains. “My team is also involved in contact tracing and managing the positive cases we currently have – fortunately these numbers so far have stayed relatively low. Our focus is on data collection, analysis and interpretation, so that we can guide the government on public health policy decisions and actions.”

Lawrence has found being on the frontline during the pandemic a stressful experience at times, but says he has received excellent support. “The working week has no beginning and no end, since the work is non-stop at the department. There is very little time for rest. But I have appreciated how good data and evidence-based science is being used to help decision making. I have learned how to work under pressure, and I have a better appreciation of stakeholder engagement, community entry and consensus building. 
“My super-caring supervisors at the University of Salford, Professor Penny Cook and Dr Deborah Robertson, have kept in touch over email and Skype – they keep me going. My head of department here in Ghana, Dr Asiedu Bekoe, has also been very supportive and a great mentor. 

“I have enjoyed working in collaboration with development partners like the World Health Organization, UNICEF, World Bank and other major partners. It has been a great learning and practice experience. Having gained applicable knowledge and analytic skills during my PhD study I am confident I can contribute to helping improve the health system in Ghana, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Dr Deborah Robertson, Lecturer in Adult Nursing at the University of Salford, said: “Lawrence has made an amazing transition and it’s great to hear him attributing this in part to new ways of learning and thinking that he has developed during his PhD studies. It has been a great experience for us as supervisors to support Lawrence and play a part in his journey. Huge credit must go to Lawrence and his dedication and persistent hard work. He is a credit to the University of Salford.”

When the immediate crisis is over, Lawrence plans to return to his PhD research, which is based at Tema General Hospital in Ghana. He is carrying out a study into emergency department crowding and its impact on the clinical care and mortality outcomes of stroke patients.

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.