The Global South Arts and Health Week  2024 held in Accra

The Global Arts in Medicine Fellowship, Arts in Medicine Ghana, the Global South Arts and Health Envoy, in collaboration with Te-Apo Foundation have organised the Global South Arts and Health Week (GSAHW) Ghana Pavilion 2024 to promote holistic health through art, education, and community engagement.

The festival, themed Health Beyond Medicine, was held from 20th to 26th May, 2024 in Accra and witnessed over 500 participants patronising the entire program throughout the week.

The week-long festival addressed vital thematic areas such as Mental Health, Neuroscience, Brain and Geriatric Health, Public Health, Child Health, Inclusive and Safe Society, Good Health and Well-being, Health Promotion and Education, Climate Change and Environmental Health, Disability, Maternal Health and Maternal Mental Health.

Mr. Christopher Bailey, the Arts and Health Lead of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Co-founder of Jameel Arts and Health Lab, in his keynote address, said, “One of the things about stroke that is important and all non-communicable diseases is that it gets to the heart of health.”

“In our 1947 WHO constitution, health is not merely the absence of diseases and infirmity but the attainment of the highest level of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Thus, it is more than just the absence of a disease but rather about being the best human that you can be, he added.

Miss. Doris Komla, the Country Festival Director of the Global South Arts and Health Week (GSAHW) mentioned that working and collaborating with different people from diverse fields to champion this worthy cause has been a great privilege.

“The journey to establishing such great initiative was birthed out of the frustration linked with the statistics available. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death among Ghanaians and it is ranked as number one for women and number five for men. Another layer to these statistics is that most people who fall victim of stroke cannot afford to pay for CT scans; hence, for every second that they do not get a CT scan, brain cells are dying, she explained.

Miss. Komla further revealed that there are people in other regions of Ghana who cannot access the nearest hospital to get a CT scan for stroke. Adding, “These major issues need to be addressed as a community and we got the chance to tackle them during the Global South Arts and Health Week Ghana Pavilion 2024 in Accra.”

As part of the creative response to the intersection of the arts and health, a body of work created by Dr. Kwasi Aboryo Ankrah, a medical doctor and artist through his sculptures and paintings advocated for stroke management and the support for stroke patients in Ghana during the festival.

It is of notable mention that Te-Apo, an organisation run by Dr. Ankrah, has been at the forefront of stroke advocacy in Ghana. The support of the organisation towards the GSAHW Pavilion 2024 was profound.

Miss. Komla expressed profound gratitude to the organising team: Dr. Kwasi Aboryo Ankrah (Arts and Programme Engagements Coordinator), Dr. Abdul Karim Hakib (Theatre and SDG Coordinator), Dr. Sharon Attipoe-Dorcoo (Strategy and Content Generator), Miss. Naa-Amy Wayne, MPH (Resource Person for Gender Advocacy), and Mr. Nana Yaw B. Manaphraim (Regional Liaison Director), Saidatu Abdallah Zablong (Global Arts in Medicine Alumni Cordinator), Mr. Emmanuel Amah, Mr. Prince Obodai, Mrs. Vivian Amponsah, Mr. Selasi Sena Nyatuame, Miss. Dorencia Goka, and Mrs. Sarpomaa Bempong, the Te-Apo Foundation, valuable volunteers, participants, sponsors, and collaborators who contributed to the success of the Global South Arts and Health Week (GSAHW) Ghana Pavilion 2024.

Dr. Nana Aba Kwenua Pobee, the Associate Country Festival Director of GSAHW during the closing ceremony highlighted the significant contributions and discussions on critical topics such as autism, climate change, female and sexual reproductive health.

“The festival’s diverse and engaging lineup offered unique opportunities for education, dialogue, and reflection on various health-related issues. Attendees participated in interactive workshops, support circles, art therapy sessions, and health screenings, gaining valuable insights and experiences.”

Worth acknowledging were the theatre performances by the students from the School of Performing Arts of the University of Ghana, Legon, led by Dr. Abdul Karim Hakib. These performances sparked conversations that, without a doubt, continued after the festival.

Dr. Pobee added, The arts have always been a part of health. They are an ever-present voice. The GSAHW Ghana Pavilion 2024 only raised this voice by decibels. Now, in Ghana, the arts and health will be heard. The arts and health will be listened to. Every community will be called in.

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