Afrocaribbean Health and Wellness Team: Improving health in the black community.

Afrocaribbean Health, HIV, Fountain of love church, Health friendly

The Parliamentary Ethnicity and Health report of 2007 shows that Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups generally have worse health than the overall population. For instance, it reports that there is up to 7 times higher rates of new diagnosis of psychosis among Black Caribbean people than among the White British. Health Survey for England 2004 reports a prevalence of Hypertension of more than 38% in Black Carribean males compared to the general population prevalence of 31%.The prevalence of doctor-diagnosed Diabetes amongst Africans and Caribbean men above 55 years combined is 15% compared to the general population prevalence of 4.3%.HIV prevalence for black Africans in the UK is 37 per 1000 population, compared to 1.5 per 1000 of the rest of the population and people from African communities are more likely to test and be diagnosed later than other groups. These are a few instances of the dismal health statistics available about the afrocaribbean ethnic group.

Why is this the case?

There are many reasons given for this picture. These include distrust and unfamiliarity with the way the health sector works, language barriers, stress related to poverty, immigration issues, unemployment, poor housing amongst other factors. Poverty may mean that many eat unhealthy but cheap food which then adversely affects their health. Stigma from society and media can limit access to health services.

What can be done?

The Afrocaribbean Health and Wellness Team (AHWT) has taken the bull by the horn to try and address these areas of health inequality. This unique group is made up of health professionals, members of the voluntary sector and other people with the following objectives:

  • To raise awareness of health related issues affecting the Afro-Caribbean communities in Scotland.

  • To empower Afro-Caribbeans to make informed choices about their health.

  • To inform Afro- Caribbeans about health support services and agencies available in the community.

To be able to bridge the health inequality, we found it necessary to liaise with Faith group leaders as worship is an integral aspect of the afrocaribbean community. It is the belief of the AHWT that for health interventions to make an impact within any group, strategies must align to the beliefs and practices of that group.AIDS and Mobility Europe recommends that policy, prevention, treatment and care for migrants should include ”targeted, culturally appropriate services and communication with migrant communities.”

 

What we did:

We carried out a health survey at the Fountain of Love church, Aberdeen to ascertain what health issues the members of the Faith group wanted to learn more about. A total of 212 people participated in the survey 59% of whom were females. 88% were members of the church, the rest had been visiting on the day of the survey. 58% of those who participated in the survey were in the 30-40 years age range.

Based on the result of the survey, a health event took place on the 25th of October at the Fountain of Love church hall. Health professionals were invited from within and outside the Afrocaribbean community to educate and inform attendees on different health topics. Topics covered included Mental Health, Cardiovascular Health, Sexual Health, Men’s Health, Getting to know your NHS and Weight Management. Speakers on the day were Dr Matthew Jack, Dr Winifred Eboh, Dr Petrus Elofuke, Dr Adaeze Ifezulike, Dr Fumen Gamba and Mr Katai Kasengele. Good interactive participation was helped by small group workshops on the various topics which were anchored by the speakers and others including Dr Jenny Bryden, Mrs Tabeth Timba-Emmanuel, Mrs Ubong Usua, Mrs Lolade Ogunrinboye and Mrs Yetunde Odebiyi.

 

More than 40 people opted for confidential testing for blood borne viruses like HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C while a further 60 had their blood sugar, Blood pressure, Fat content and Body Mass Index (BMI) measured. The testing booths were manned by Public health staff from the NHS (Penny Gillies and Helen Corrigan) and Roselie Emmanuel.

 The Atmosphere:

Sexual wellbeing network, Adaeze Ifezulike, Roselie Emmanuel, Chris Gbenle, Dupe Omotosho, Katai Kasengele, Jenny Bryden, Ubong Usua,It was fantastic as people felt at home unlike they would in a hospital environment. Their questions were answered. Food was provided by the church and visible participation by church leaders headed by Pastor Dr Chris Gbenle helped to foster trust and engagement with attendees.

The event ended with a ”HEALTH FRIENDLY’ Certificate issued to the church.

Evaluation of event:

Participants were asked to anonymously evaluate the event with a series of questions, some of which are included here:

How could the event be improved? Some answers included ”I would want to hear more about stress management, high blood pressure and mental health”, ”Create more awareness of the programme” and ”Do such programs at least every two months.”

What did you  like best about the event? ”The workshops and the screening”, ”The package was excellent” and ”All the sessions.”

What have you gained as a result of attending this event?

”A lot, I now know my weight, BMI and sugar blood test,” ”Information on weight management,” ”That its not only when you are not feeling well that you should seek advice” and ”Intensive education and awareness about HIV and other illnesses.”

What might you do differently as a result of this event?

”Change my eating and drinking habits”, ”Watch my weight,” ”Monitor my health,” ”Change diet, become more active and less lonely” and ”Eat better.”

90% of the evaluation forms handed back rated the organisation of the event as Excellent or Good.

Members of the Afrocaribbean Health and Wellness team include Dr Winifred Eboh, Dr Matthew Jack, Mrs Ubong Usua, Mrs Lolade Ogunrinboye, Mrs Tabeth Timba-Emmanuel, Mr Katai Kasengele and Dr Adaeze Ifezulike.

If you would like to know more about the afrocaribbean health events and how your organisation can achieve ‘HEALTH FRIENDLY’ status, please contact Dr Adaeze Ifezulike on info@sexualwellbeingnetwork.com

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