We have a problem. Give us a foreign grant to tackle it or we shall leave it

Saturday, October 8, 2022.

“Your chin/jaw is detached and falling down, hold it in place so that I run to get a rope to tie it back in place for you and you are telling me you will leave the chin/jaw if I don’t come back early…?”
– Akan proverb.

This week someone (a Ghanaian outside the country) who has been following our work and has been surprised at the core team we have put together (both in Ghana and outside Ghana) for the work we do at the Cervical Cancer Prevention and Training Centre (CCPTC) in Catholic Hospital, Battor, asked me how we put our team together. He has tried to understand how people (especially in academia) would be interested in solving problems (that directly affect them) only when there are foreign grants.
I do not not have all the answers. Maybe we can all think about it.

I share his frustration:

I have been thinking about your “critical mass” recommendation all day. I believe that is the solution to our problems in Ghana.
I have thought seriously about starting something along the lines of a consortium of ….. researchers, to systematically tackle …… challenges in Ghana, and do so not for publications, but to solve real problems. The challenge I forsee is that, it is hard to get buy ins from colleagues if there is not money involved. I’ve experienced his before. I don’t mean that they would like to be paid. Rather, people are more engaged if the purpose is to apply for a grant, usually from overseas donors. If the grant application is unsuccessful, no one seems to ask “how can we still solve the problem without a grant from foreign donors”? I know we’ll need money to do good research, but I don’t want money to be the reason why we fail to start something in the first place. I am yet to find a solution around this and will be happy to hear your views how it can be done.

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