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Defying pandemics together

Wilm Quentin, professor of Public Health and Global Health at Technische Universität Berlin

Wilm Quentin, professor of Public Health and Global Health at Technische Universität Berlin
Image Credit: privat

Covid will surely not be the last virus to spread across the world. How pandemics can be prevented or, once they have broken out, can be effectively kept in check and which strategies healthcare systems can develop for this, is being researched by the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary project G-WAC – German-West African Centre for Global Health and Pandemic Prevention. It is financed as a DAAD Global Centre, and the partners are Technische Universität Berlin, the Charité, the University Hospital Bonn, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi in Ghana, as well as participants from the healthcare system. The project is supported by the Berlin Center for Global Engagement (BCGE) of BUA.

The healthcare system researcher Wilm Quentin coordinates G-WAC at the Department of Health Care Management of TU Berlin.

Mr Quentin, how did the project come about?

Wilm Quentin: I became familiar with KNUST in 2009, when I was in Ghana as part of my master’s thesis. After that, I cooperated again and again with colleagues from the School of Public Health in various projects.   We developed the master’s degree programme in Health Systems Research and Management together at KNUST and established a series of events with politicians to exchange views on the healthcare system. The DAAD tender then brought us together again – with the University of Bonn and the Charité as further partners, who were also already cooperating with Ghana.

Why is KNUST a good partner?

Quentin: The interdisciplinary KNUST College of Health Sciences combines all the fields relating to Public and Global Health. They do excellent work there, from which we, as partners, benefit greatly. It therefore made sense to establish G-WAC there. Like other West African countries, Ghana also has experience of combating dangerous diseases like Ebola or malaria. Additionally, Ghana has one of the best healthcare systems in Africa – around half of the population has health insurance. This is also a very good background for us to exchange views, for example on the burdens on the healthcare system in containing pandemics.

Which aspects do you consider?

Quentin: Distributed among the project partners, G-WAC brings together seven different research groups, who focus on the one hand on drivers of pandemics like extensive farming, climate change or the transmission of diseases from wild animals to humans. Other projects, on the other hand, illuminate economic, political and social circumstances as important pillars for resilient healthcare systems.

What do you and your colleagues wish to achieve by 2025?

Quentin: The funding offers us the great opportunity of financing a total of 14 doctoral positions in Ghana. The young scientists also come to Berlin for three months per year in each case. BUA plays an important role here as a supporter: BUA researchers are available to supervise the Ghanaian doctoral students. Furthermore, we make short research stays in Kumasi possible for German scientists and students as well as other African scientists. G-WAC is to have a lasting effect.

The funding from the DAAD is limited to five years. How do you want to achieve sustainability?

Quentin: After their return, the young researchers in Ghana will work at important interfaces of the healthcare system or pass on their knowledge as professors to students. Above all, the networks will not only be further expanded between Germany and Ghana, but also between the African states. And we will, of course, raise further funds on the basis of our previous research work.

Further Information

The project:

G-WAC is being funded for five years with around three million euros as a DAAD Centre in the programme Global Centres for Health and Pandemic Prevention.

Personal details: Wilm Quentin is currently a professor of Public Health and Global Health at Technische Universität Berlin. He holds a doctorate in Medicine and also studied Political Science. In addition, he completed a master’s degree programme in Health Policy, Planning & Financing in London.