Guest Speaker 2024

Michael Head

Dr Michael Head

Dr Michael Head is a Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, based within the Clinical Informatics Research Unit, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Southampton.

His research focuses around rural population health in Ghana, West Africa. Michael trained in epidemiology, and received his PhD (by published works) from the University of Amsterdam. Topic areas include Neglected Tropical Diseases, refugee health, COVID-19 and vaccine hesitancy. For example, he led on a study looking at healthcare-seeking behaviour around skin infections (a stigmatized area of health) in urban and rural districts in Ghana. Another example is describing the viewpoints around COVID-19 vaccines and the pandemic response in ‘Last Mile’ populations in rural Ghana.

He co-leads an ongoing 3-year intervention study where the aim is to improve healthcare-seeking behaviour around local rural Ghanaian communities. This will test the effectiveness of dialogue-based interventions to improve health knowledge and understanding. The thinking is that by encouraging communities to themselves disseminate positive and accurate messaging, the improvements in knowledge will be maximized and sustainable beyond the end of the research. The research focus is around climate and health, particularly including mosquito-related disease, such as yellow fever, and Neglected Tropical Diseases, such as scabies or leprosy.

His work highlights the need for locally-led research and implementation of health services, supported by the wider international community. Thus, equity and transfer of ‘power’ from the international stakeholders back to the local Ghanaian communities is vital. With this in mind, Michael co-delivered a Climate and Health Summit in Accra (capital of Ghana) earlier in 2024, with the Ministry of Health and a policy group called PACKS Africa. The focus was to improve Ghanaian and West African leadership on issues affecting their populations.

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