In a co-design workshop run in February in Accra, representatives of the communities participating in the Dust Bunny project and experts (public health, epidemiology, behavioural psychology, etc) came together to co-develop an interdisciplinary research project addressing infectious disease in the home environment in Ghana.
Through a series of creative and interactive activities, workshop co-designers identified the key health challenges faced by communities as well as the barriers to conducting research with communities in Ghana. These included the role of cleaning and hygiene practices in the transmission of infectious disease in the home and the impact of cultural and religious beliefs on them. Furthermore, attention was paid to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Ghana in light of the national action plan on AMR.
In terms of the challenges of conducting research with local communities, these included access to communities and establishing trust, use of technology for recording data (i.e. cameras, audio recorders) and sampling of microbiological material, such as dust. Again the role of culture and religion featured on these discussions.
Workshop participants, led by community members provided ways of mitigating these challenges and set aims and objective fo a new and impactful project that would tackle these. Examples included working with schools (primary and junior), religious groups (churches, mosques) and other social groups. This led to discussion and a set of research methods that would work well with the identified communities, including citizen science and research endorsed, carried and promoted by different communities.
Following this and working in groups, workshop participants were invited to think and discuss about what they would hope to learn knowledge from project such as this, what is important about that knowledge, how might it impact Ghana and the world. This led to the identification of several research outcomes as well as pathway to impact for the project.
What became clear from this co-design workshop was the value of engaging the community along with experts in the research planning process and in defining the wider contexts of infectious diseases , as well as the research methods, outcomes, stakeholders and pathways to impact.