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T.E.A.M Africa Health Education Campaign Reaches over 1000 Linguistically & Culturally Diverse District Africans

Thursday, June 6, 2013

T.E.A.M Africa Health Education Campaign Reaches over 1000 Linguistically & Culturally Diverse District Africans

Over 300 residents joined Mayor Gray at the first ever DC African Wellness Fête

(Washington, DC) - On June 1, 2013, Mayor Vincent C. Gray and his Office on African Affairs (OAA) held the first ever DC African Wellness Fête. More than 300 District residents joined Mayor Gray at Brightwood Education Campus in Ward 4 to access health resources and celebrate the grand finale of OAA’s health education campaign titled Think. Eat. Act. Move. Africa (T.E.A.M Africa) which successfully connected over 1000 District residents to vital health information and services over a period of three months.

"In the District of Columbia we take the health of our residents seriously. In fact, we are often ranked second only to Massachusetts in ensuring universal health coverage for residents,” said Mayor Gray as he addressed the Fête attendees. “Still we have serious health concerns to address in our city and it is initiatives like T.E.A.M. Africa, which promotes healthy behaviors, that will help us eliminate barriers and improve health outcomes for all District residents.”

The DC African Wellness Fête was kicked off with remarks from OAA Director, Ngozi Nmezi who enthusiastically welcomed the crowd and emphasized the critical role access to health care plays in ensuring the individual and collective vitality of the rapidly growing African community in the District. Simultaneously emceed and facilitated in English, Amharic and French, the Fête featured over 35 government and nonprofit exhibitors, a dozen clinical screenings (including Hepatitis B & C, cancer, HIV, glaucoma, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc), four concurrent health workshops, cooking demonstrations, African dance workouts, and themed activities for youth. Attendees represented over 25 different African countries of origin, the largest representations being from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo.

In February 2013 OAA launched T.E.A.M. Africa to eliminate health disparities within the District’s African immigrant community and to tackle glaring barriers to access: language, lack of culturally competent education or care, stigma, and lack of affordable health care. Through March, April and May, TEAM Africa’s aggressive social media campaign, multilingual outreach teams and community/faith-based host partners reached over 1000 District residents. These residents participated in mental health, health literacy and nutrition workshops uniquely tailored to their ethnic, religious, and language groups. The DC-based host partners who participated in this initiative included the Ethiopian Community Center Inc, International Ethiopian Evangelical Church, Oromo Community Organization, Nigerians in the Diaspora Organization, the Carlos Rosario International Charter School, Eritrean Community Center, Muslim Society of Washington D.C. and Howard University African Student Association.

“The DC African Wellness Fête concluded, on highly energizing note, a groundbreaking initiative which mobilized the health resources government has to offer, the cultural competency and community ties of African community-based organizations, and the medical expertise of the large community of African health care professionals in the District to increase health literacy and eliminate disparities” said Ms. Nmezi. She added, “we are deeply appreciative of the sustained work and dedication of the TEAM Africa Coordinating Committee, as well as the support of government agency partners [Department of Health, Department of Mental Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Health Care Finance, and the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Health and Human Services], donors [AmeriHealth/Chartered Health Plan and MoneyGram], and volunteers who helped make this ambitious initiative a major success.”

OAA will continue to engage the District’s linguistically and culturally diverse African communities through culturally targeted health education and work across sectors - government, community-based partners and health care providers – to improve the health and quality of life of District residents.



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