“Truthfully, that sense of looking out for one another is a strong thing in not just African culture, but immigrant African and Caribbean-American culture as well,” she added. “It made sense for us to take care of one another, and to provide an organic base of support.”
African Health Now credits 2006 as its inaugural year, and the early stages of the organization was molded around a health event titled the ““Gift of Life @ Christmas” fair. With 21 friends, Akiwowo helped to provide basic health procedures such as blood pressure checks, glucose tests, dental evaluation, healthy lifestyle classes and much more.
Over 300 Ghanaians, received care that day, with many stating it was their first time being seen by a health professional. Donations from friends, family and organizations helped to supply the event, and while there wasn’t a fair in 2012, African Health Now was still instrumental in providing information and support as needed.
“We didn’t do a fair in 2012 due to a lack of funds, but my dad wants me back to do another fair because the lack of accessibility the average Ghanaian has,” explained Akiwowo. That accessibility, and the fact that 1 healthcare provider is expected to work in a clinic and service upwards to 200 people over an unspecified amount of time drives home the seriousness of African Health Now’s work.
Akiwowo also spoke on the difficulty of getting men and women to speak on necessary health issues together, such as breast cancer, STDs, childcare, prostate health and more. She observed that culturally, African-Americans do not face the same conservative barriers as those in Ghana and that many in the states take that for granted.
African Health Now is a 501(c)(3) organization based in New York. Akiwowo is joined in the effort by five board members, an intern, a volunteer coordinator, and a four-person advisory team.
This coming December 1, which is also World AIDS Day, African Health Now will host another healthcare fair and condom giveaway in Ghana and has made a public call for donations. To learn more about African Health Now’s upcoming fair and to support, click here.