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Creating a Charter of Collaboration for International University Partnerships: The Elmina Declaration for Human Resources for Health

Anderson, Frank MD, MPH; Donkor, Peter MDSc; de Vries, Raymond PhD, MA; Appiah-Denkyira, Ebenezer MD, MPH; Dakpallah, George Fidelis MSc; Rominski, Sarah MPH; Hassinger, Jane MSW; Lou, Airong PhD; Kwansah, Janet MBA, RN; Moyer, Cheryl PhD, MPH; Rana, Gurpreet K. MLS; Lawson, Aaron MBChB, PhD; Ayettey, Seth MBBS, PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000384

The potential of international academic partnerships to build global capacity is critical in efforts to improve health in poorer countries. Academic collaborations, however, are challenged by distance, communication issues, cultural differences, and historical context. The Collaborative Health Alliance for Reshaping Training, Education, and Research project (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented through academic medicine and public health and governmental institutions in Michigan and Ghana) took a prospective approach to address these issues. The project had four objectives: to create a “charter for collaboration” (CFC), to improve data-driven policy making, to enhance health care provider education, and to increase research capacity. The goal of the CFC was to establish principles to guide the course of the technical work. All participants participated at an initial conference in Elmina, Ghana. Nine months later, the CFC had been revised and adopted. A qualitative investigation of the CFC’s effects identified three themes: the CFC’s unique value, the influence of the process of creating the CFC on patterns of communication, and the creation of a context for research and collaboration. Creating the CFC established a context in which implementing technical interventions became an opportunity for dialogue and developing a mutually beneficial partnership. To increase the likelihood that research results would be translated into policy reforms, the CFC made explicit the opportunities, potential problems, and institutional barriers to be overcome. The process of creating a CFC and the resulting document define a new standard in academic and governmental partnerships.

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Dr. Anderson is associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and departmental director, Global Initiatives, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Donkor is professor, Department of Surgery, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, College of Health Sciences, Kumasi, Ghana.

Dr. de Vries is professor, Center for Bioethics and Social Science in Medicine, Departments of Medical Education, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Sociology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and visiting professor, CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University Medical School, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Dr. Appiah-Denkyira is director of human resources, Ghana Ministry of Health, Accra, Ghana.

Mr. Fidelis Dakpallah is director, Policy, Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Directorate, Ghana Ministry of Health, Accra, Ghana.

Ms. Rominski is research associate, Office of Global Reach, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ms. Hassinger is lecturer in women’s studies and research specialist, Institute for Research of Women and Gender, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Lou is research area specialist lead in information science, Office of Enabling Technologies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ms. Kwansah is senior nursing officer, Policy, Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Directorate, Ghana Ministry of Health, Accra, Ghana.

Dr. Moyer is managing director, Global REACH, University of Michigan Medical School, and research investigator, Department of Medical Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ms. Rana is global health coordinator, Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Lawson is provost, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana.

Dr. Ayettey is professor, Department of Anatomy, University of Ghana Medical School, College of Health Sciences, Accra, Ghana.

Funding/Support: This project was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: The University Michigan institutional review board approved this work.

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Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Anderson, 1500 E. Medical Center Dr., L4000 WH, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0276; telephone: (734) 763-2441; e-mail:

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges