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Africa Health Now: Promoting Healthcare on the Continent and the Diapsora

Think about the last time the media provided a report on health conditions in Africa. More than likely it was a segment on some horrible, severe condition that would prove to be fatal if left

 

Think about the last time the media provided a report on health conditions in Africa. More than likely it was a segment on some horrible, severe condition that would prove to be fatal if left untreated such as HIV, malaria, cholera or tuberculosis. It is unfortunate that our image of the state health in Africa consists of reports about people suffering from these ailments for multiple reasons.

First, these pictures reinforce the negative portrait that is exaggerated and often untrue. The negativity has the additional consequence of creating a climate in which large-scale investment in the future of the continent is limited.

Secondly, Africans suffer from a variety of non-communicable ailments that do not receive the proper amount of attention from the media. The structure of current medical care in Africa prevents the population from receiving the necessary ongoing care for these ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and depression.

With these obstacles in mind, a Ghanaian American, Nana Eyeson-Akiwowo, has formed the organization “African Health Now” to begin changing the manner in which medical care is delivered in Africa. Through the work of her group she hopes to create a new health care paradigm for Africans and re-focus the direction of individuals regarding their wellness.

Growing up in Virginia, Ms. Eyeson-Akiwowo did not spend too much time thinking about care back home in Ghana. That is, until a day in 2006 when she received a call from a family member in Accra telling her that her father was in the hospital as a result of a “heart ailment”.  Luckily a friend traveling to Ghana was able to locate her father and provide some information for the family in the USA.

The hours of uncertainty as well as fear led Ms. Eyeson –Akiwowo to begin a serious review of basic health care in Ghana as well as Africa in its entirety and led to the formation of African Health Now (AHN).

As a result of these beginning activities, the organization holds a health fair in Accra, usually around the December holiday season that teams medical students and nurses from Ghana with volunteers in the medical profession in the USA. The fair provides workshops about symptoms and the management of chronic conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol levels as well as discussions of more culturally taboo subjects such as mental health and cancers.  Each fair attendee is provided with a basic health screening as well as printed materials regarding the issues of concern to them.  Additionally, the individual is provided with a personal medical record with suggestions for ongoing management of health concerns.

The goal of AHN is to eventually schedule multiple fairs in a locality throughout the year as well as tailor the events to specific groups in a population (EG: women only events or a pediatric event) as well as regularize the wellness of a population by increasing the use of self-exams and the access to the latest knowledge about health and diet. Ms. Eyeson- Akiwowo also hopes to eventually expand this initiative to other countries beyond her native Ghana.

The African Health Now model is an excellent beginning to turn the tide of health issues in afflict people on an everyday basis. There are two basic obstacles that this program overcomes. First, it takes into account local culture and needs and tailors its system to those two concepts. Second, the organization sets these fairs up in a community and according to experts, community based initiatives work best.

African Health now has begun the long and difficult work of bringing some regularity to the wellness of the people of Ghana. Let’s hope that the world responds and helps to carry the task to its future with a positive result.

African Health Now can be accessed on the web at: www.africanhealthnow.org

After a long career as a professional educator, ROBERT BERNSTEIN made the decision, a few years ago, to change direction and to focus on my work in journalism. This effort has afforded him many opportunities to expand his long term goals and as a result he now see the world through the lens of a “social entrepreneur”. He has worked with a variety news services and organizations as well as individuals seeking to maximize their media presence. His body of work encompasses the areas of development, governance, sustainability and technology.
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