On Tuesday, Oct. 20, nonprofit organization African Health Now (AHN) will host its inaugural Gift of Life Cocktail Benefit to raise awareness for the organization’s mission to promote and provide information and primary healthcare accessibility to women, children, and families living across sub-Saharan Africa.
This benefit will be held at Chelsea Piers’ Sunset Terrace in New York City and will aid in contributing to the AHN cause while honoring diverse professionals for their philanthropic commitments to the African community.
BlackEnterprise.com had a chance to chat with the founder and president of African Health Now, Nana Eyeson-Akiwowo, about the organization’s first benefit and raising the organization’s profile.
BlackEnterprise.com: What exactly is African Health Now and why is it important?
Eyeson-Akiwowo: I launched African Health Now, initially, as a one off initiative where I wanted to give back to a community that had given me so much during a time when I had needed help with my father. He had a heart attack in 2006 while I was at work here in the states. I realized that certain things like the signs of having a heart attack, or what it means to be diabetic, or what you should look for and how to be careful—these types of basic informational needs were not being shared with the population that was most vulnerable and needed it the most.
Now the organization focuses primarily on providing information and primary healthcare accessibility to women and children and families across the continent—with a geographical focus in Ghana. We provide free health fairs that allow people who have little to no access to direct contact [with doctors], or who can’t afford to go to a doctor, to say, ‘I just want to know what my blood pressure is.’
We do dental screenings, we talk to women about self-breast examinations—how to give yourself one, what is it you’re looking for and, if you find it, what that conversation then becomes. Within African culture, breast cancer and things of that nature are things we just don’t talk about. We educate in an effort to try to change that narrative, to change the story, and change how people understand and deal with certain issues. That’s the importance of AHN.
What would be the ultimate accomplishment for your organization?
I think it ties back into when do you stop? The “when would we stop” point is when we change the way healthcare is provided to Africans across the continent; when the average person can go to any clinic and feel confident in the services they’re getting and in the way they dialogue with their medical practitioner.
World Health has said that by the year 2030, non-communicable diseases—hypertension, diabetes, and various cancers—will be the No. 1 killer of Africans. If we could combat that, that would be the end for us because that’s the story that’s not being told.
African Health Now is hosting its first Gift of Life Cocktail Benefit. Can you tell the BE.com audience about the benefit and what it’s looking to accomplish?
We’re hosting the Gift of Life benefit to raise money for our ongoing program and to service key funding for the launch and deployment of our first-ever mobile health unit. One of the initiatives that we have as an organization is that we want to send a mobile health unit that has the capacity to provide primary healthcare to people in rural areas. We’ve been doing health fairs in the city. As we branch out into more northern areas and more rural areas, a mobile van would be a lot more beneficial for us, and it will also serve to provide follow-up care to the people we serve and the people we continue to service. We’re looking to deploy the unit in 2018.