Meet Mr. Thomas Hinneh, a senior officer of the Ghana Health Service and founder of the Diabetes and hypertension foundation (hifoundationgh.org) in Ghana. He just completed MSc. International Health from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He graduated with excellent grade and also won the Best Thesis award. He takes the Alumni spotlight in our October edition of the DAAD Ghana Newsletter.

In addition to his extensive experience in non-communicable disease management from clinical and community perspectives, Thomas is also well experienced in quality improvement and health systems strengthening strategies in healthcare. He has held several leadership positions right from his university days through to public service.

Where in Germany did you study? What did you study and in which year?
I studied MSc. International Health at Heidelberg Institute of Global Health, Heidelberg University. I am part of the 2019/2020 cohort.

Are you still in touch with your institution?
I am still in touch with my thesis supervisors and planning for future projects in Ghana.

What is your research interest? What did you work on in your master thesis?
My research interest includes, non-communicable diseases(NCD), health systems strengthening, quality improvement and maternal health.
I did 'A systematic Review on barriers to screening, diagnosis and management of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) in Africa' as my master thesis.

Any specific outcomes from your research?
Paper is pending publication and was recognised by the medical faculty of the Heidelberg Institute of Global Health with a best thesis Award. I hope to influence detection and management of Gestational Diabetes in Ghana, by designing and proposing a feasible GDM care model in the near future.

 

Thomas presenting at a class presentation session.

How did you first get interested in your subject area?
Growing up, Diabetes and hypertension specifically got my attention due to the substantial burden of mortality and morbidity especially in rural communities. Yet the practices which includes reduction in harmful use of alcohol, healthy diet, physical activity etc can be offered at little or no cost to the individual. And this is something I have advocated for since my undergraduate studies.
And I think the COVID-19 has at least shown the need for NCD control strategies.

What is the relation between NCD and COVID-19?
Having an NCD such as hypertension or diabetes is a predictor of poor outcome in case you get infected with COVID-19. As seen from the emerging mortality trend, most of the people who died of COVID-19 at least are people diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases etc.

Are you back at your post? What are your future plans?
Yes, l have resumed work. I love my country and I feel much more fulfilled by contributing to humanity and so I hope to direct the new skills and expertise gained in Heidelberg to improve service delivery in my district and Ghana at large.

Thomas sitting on the Philosophenweg (Philosophers' Walk), a peaceful place he loves to sit and relax in Heidelberg

What is your advice to Ghanaians planning on graduate school?
Germany is an interesting destination for further studies. The pedagogical arrangement of most courses encourage acquisition of practical industry relevant skills which are critical to country development and career progression of students.