I am on the 3.5 year pathway at Newcastle University and have completed the PG Certificate in Research Training Methods. As part of my research I will be conducting qualitative and ethnographic fieldwork in Kenya and Ghana, exploring the lived experiences of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and their families with regards to PD and its treatment. The study will include questionnaire surveys, in-depth biographical interviews, informal conversations and continuous ethnographic observations which will be conducted over three stages.
PD is a debilitating neurological disorder that results in a reduced quality of life for people with PD and their families, however, there is a lack of knowledge about PD in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). PD drugs are largely unavailable and inaccessible in SSA, but if they are to be made available it is important to understand attitudes to treatment in order to tailor treatment programmes to specific social and cultural contexts. The way populations perceive illness and their explanations of cause of disease influence their adherence to medication. Populations in Kenya and Ghana are ageing rapidly. Associated with these ageing populations is the increase in incidence of chronic, non-communicable diseases such as PD. In addition, populations are encountering gradually weakening traditional family support systems and increased economic hardship. Understanding the lived experiences of people with PD in these settings will enable policy to tailor services to the specific needs of this older, vulnerable population. The results of this study will generate policy relevant evidence on older people with PD in Kenya and Ghana and contribute to the global effort to tackle ‘Ageing in Africa’.