Opinion

The Kintampo Project

Gwyn Grout and colleagues describe how skills development through international collaboration is helping patients in Ghana.
Ghana prayer

Gwyn Grout and colleagues describe how skills development through international collaboration is helping patients in Ghana.

The Framework for Engaging in Global Health (Department of Health 2014) affirms the involvement of health practitioners within international development is valued for the benefits it brings to all parties.

We have been part of the Kintampo Project a collaboration between Ghana and the UK that grew out of a partnership between two health institutions in Hampshire, UK and Kintampo, Ghana.

The project's aim is to improve and extend mental health services throughout Ghana by training two new groups of mental health professionals; community mental health officers and clinical psychiatric officers.

We can now boast that the whole of Ghana is served by professionals who provide care at the doorsteps of people in need of mental health

...

Gwyn Grout and colleagues describe how skills development through international collaboration is helping patients in Ghana.

Ghana prayer
Engaging global health project in Ghana. Picture: Alamy

The Framework for Engaging in Global Health (Department of Health 2014) affirms the involvement of health practitioners within international development is ‘valued for the benefits it brings to all parties’.

We have been part of the Kintampo Project – a collaboration between Ghana and the UK that grew out of a partnership between two health institutions in Hampshire, UK and Kintampo, Ghana.

The project's aim is to improve and extend mental health services throughout Ghana by training two new groups of mental health professionals; community mental health officers and clinical psychiatric officers.

We can now boast that the whole of Ghana is served by professionals who provide care at the doorsteps of people in need of mental health services.

Developing skills

A key role undertaken by nurse leaders in Ghana included the development of practice learning environments in community settings, hospitals, courts, prayer camps and prisons, and alongside traditional healers. We also had to engage with other professionals, who are key stakeholders in mental health, to enhance the experiences for our trainees.

This work developed our interpersonal and lobbying skills and the improvement it brought to self-esteem and confidence helped to develop our careers; we (Ghanaian) nurses have become tutors in the College of Health and Well-being in Kintampo.

A core element of the project is the focus on reflective practice. We identified and developed practice preceptors who enhance the learning experiences of their trainees through reflection on placements in various facilities all over the Ghana. We now employ reflective practice as a major tool, not only with trainees, but in working on personal development plans for us all.

We also feel that having to share written information with our partners and funding organisations has enhanced our abilities in documentation and report writing skills.

Lasting impact

From the perspective of the UK nurses, development is multifaceted. We are humbled by the strong desire and duty exhibited by our Ghanaian colleagues in their commitment to work with people who are marginalised by mental illness.

Experiencing physical and mental health care, in, what to a UK nurse seemed an initially chaotic and dangerous situation, has a lasting impact on perceptions of potential. When there is no resource, you have to be much more creative.

We have observed the bio/psychosocial/spiritual approach to mental health and have been led to contemplate how, in developing new mental health workers, the historical dominance of the medical model can be avoided. In our practice we now pay more heed to socio-spiritual influences and options.

We feel that engagement in an international collaboration has taught us a lot and improved our skills as leaders. We strongly recommend that colleagues who have the chance to work in partnership across nations take up the opportunity to do so, and that health services recognise the reciprocal value of developing staff in this creative manner.


Further information


About the authors

Gwyn Grout is an Independent Consultant Nurse, Surrey

Ithiel Korkor Zotorvie is a Tutor at College of Health and Wellbeing, Kintamp

Rebecca Pomaa Effah is a Tutor at College of Health and Wellbeing, Kintampo

Jo Overton is a Specialist Nurse, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Southern Health NHS 

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