Meet the Team


Ayaga Bawah, PhD (Demographer/Health Systems Analyst)

Ayaga Bawah holds a B.A. (Geography and Resource Development with Classical History & Civilization) and M.A (Population Studies) from the University of Ghana. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D in Demography from the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on population health in Africa, particularly infant and child mortality, health equity, reproductive health, and research methodology issues. He has published numerous articles in peer reviewed journals, and has contributed to book chapters concerning topics on population and health. He has worked as a Bernard Benson fellow at the Policy Research Division of the Population Council in New York, and served as a principal research associate at the International Network for the Demographic Evaluation of Populations and Their Health in Developing Countries (INDEPTH). Additionally, he is an active member of several groups dedicated to international epidemiological research, such as the Union for African Population Studies, the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, and the Population Association of America.

Patrick Asuming, PhD (Economist/Statistician)

Patrick Asuming is an economist whose research interests lie in health economics and development economics. He received his PhD in Economics from Columbia University and also holds a BA (Economics with Political Science) from the University of Ghana, and an M.Phil in Development Studies from Cambridge University, UK. Patrick was also an Associate Research Scientist and Post-Doctoral Research Scientist at the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. His recent research uses randomized field interventions to evaluate the effects of Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme on utilization of healthcare services and health outcomes. He has also worked on immunization with particular focus on national immunization days (NIDs), and the long-terms effect of reproductive health interventions in Ghana. He has expertise in the design of field experiments, analyses of large datasets and Impact Evaluation.

Arhizah Blay-Abiti (Social and Community Development Specialist/Administration)

Arhizah Blay-Abiti is a Social/Community Development Specialist with particular interest in the energy, education, and health sectors. She brings to the team proven track record in development planning, monitoring and evaluation, gender and advocacy. For instance, she played a key role in the review, and development of alternative livelihood programme and community development plan for Anglogold Ashanti Iduapriem Limited.

Arhizah has a Bachelors degree in Social Work and Sociology, and a Masters degree in Development Studies, all from University of Ghana. She also has a diploma in Project Management from Institute of Commercial Management (ICM), UK. In addition to her development pursuits, she is an experienced Administrator with expertise in grants management and project/research administration.

Pearl Kyei, PhD (Social Demographer/Research Communications)

Pearl Kyei obtained a B.A. in Economics from Davidson College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Demography from the University of Pennsylvania where her graduate research focused on family demography and educational stratification. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Population Council headquarters in New York. Her research focuses on the quality of basic education in Sub-Saharan Africa, early childhood development and care, and health systems strengthening in Ghana. She is committed to strengthening education research capacity building in this context by collecting high quality data on learning and literacy skills. Her career goals also include strengthening ties between research and policy and promoting the use of empirical evidence for development policy and planning.

Koku Awoonor-Williams, MD, MPH, MPP, PhD (Health Systems and Policy Analyst)

Koku Awoonor-Williams is the Director of the Policy, Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Division (PPME) of the Ghana Health Service, fellow of the Ghana Collage of Physicians and Surgeons and Part-time Senior Lecturer, Columbia University.

He is a public health physician/specialist with an MD from the Minsk State Medical School, Belarus, an MPH from the University of Leeds, UK and a Masters in Health Administration and Management from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration and a PhD in Epidemiology and Health Systems from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Basel, Switzerland.

As Director of PPME, Dr. Awoonor has played a major role in health system development, innovations and policy recommendations both in Ghana and abroad. He is a Governing Board member of Global Doctors for Choice (GDC), a collaborating scientist of the Averting Maternal Death and Disability (AMDD) Project of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and a founding faculty of Advancing Reproductive and Community Health Systems (ARCHeS) of the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Principal Investigator of Ghana Essential Health Intervention Project in Ghana.

His interests include health systems development, childhood survival, reproductive health, and health program assessments and evaluation.

Dennis Chirawurah, PhD (Monitoring and Evaluation Analyst)

Dennis Chirawurah is a governance and M&E expert with over fifteen years of experience in the field of participatory research. He will serve as co-leader of the research team and will lead the field team. He has coordinated field outreaches of MSc and BSc students at the University for Development Studies and has deep community leadership experience stemming from his position as the Presiding Member of the Navrongo Municipal Assembly. He served among other scientists at the Navrongo Health Research Center in pioneering interventions that led to equity driven close-to-client primary health care in Ghana. Dennis established the CLASSONE Project to help children who have dropped out of school and others who have never had any formal education in the Upper East Region. The project is to afford them a chance to integrate into the school system by providing them free literacy training, and he has trained more than 1,800 people.

Adjunct Fellows

Irma Elo, PhD (Demographer)

Dr. Elo has a PhD in Demography and Public Affairs from Princeton University. She is the Chair of the Sociology Department and a Research Associate at the Population Studies Center and the Population Aging Research Center. She has served as a member and/or a chair of several national and international committees, including chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), member of the Census Bureau’s Scientific Advisory Committee (CSAC), member and chair of the section on the sociology of population for the American Sociological Association, member of the PAA’s board of directors, chair of the PAA’s Committee on Population Statistics, and a member of an International Advisory Board of the Swedish Initiative for Research on Microdata in the Social and Medical Sciences. Her main research interests center on socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in health, cognition, and mortality across the life course and demographic estimation of mortality. In recent years, she has extended this focus to include health and mortality among racial/ethnic immigrant subgroups. She is currently the PI of NIA-funded study, Causes of Geographic Divergence in American Mortality Between 1990 and 2015: Health Behaviors, Health Care Access and Migration.

James F. Phillips, PhD (Demographer/Health Systems Researcher)

James Phillips is a Special Lecturer in Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Medical Center conducts research on health systems and policy issues in Africa and Asia.

He has collaborated with the Ghana Health Service in designing, implementing, and evaluating the Navrongo Experiment, a study that provided conclusive evidence that family planning services can lead to fertility decline in a traditional African societal setting. Improvements in maternal and child health associated with the project represent the most rapid declines in maternal and childhood mortality ever recorded for a rural African population, with service systems of the project becoming the model for a national program known as the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) Initiative. Based on his work in Ghana, he has developed and tested methods for accelerating the pace of scaling-up initiatives around the world. He directs a randomized cluster trial of community-based primary health care in Tanzania that tests the childhood survival impact of the Ghana service model in three rural Tanzanian districts. Based on work in Bangladesh and Ghana he is developing implementation science tools for evidence-based scale-up of health system innovations. He has published various papers in leading journals documenting his work and the impact of policy experiments in Ghana, Tanzania, and Bangladesh.

Administration and Finance

Emmanuel Adoko (Accounts Officer)

Mr. Emmanuel Adoko is a well versed accounts professional with grounded experience in grants budget preparation, and financial monitoring and reporting to donors. He has worked on projects supported by major funding agencies including IDRC (Canada) and the African Development Bank. He is also well versed in general accounting services.

He has, in addition to a BSc in Accounting, certification as a Cloud Practitioner.