By Yinka Olatunbosun
The Arts in Medicine Fellowship has launched its 2020/2021 programme in a virtual ceremony. This edition is unprecedented with its varied participants drawn from different parts of Africa. In the opening remarks at the inaugural ceremony to mark this Pan-African experience, the Founder, Executive Director, Arts in Medicine Fellowship, Kunle Adewale expressed his joy on the growth of this initiative which was founded in 2018 with support from the US Department of State in Washington DC and the US Mission to Nigeria.
“Through art engagement, both virtual and physical, we have recorded an incredible impact of the arts on patient’s health, family members and health provider’s wellbeing across communities in Nigeria. We have hosted Global conferences, Music for Mental Health sessions, created murals, facilitated therapeutic art engagements in hospitals, healthcare centres, hospices and in the community.
“Over 5000 people have benefited directly and indirectly from the impact of our programmes. Arts in Medicine Fellowship is currently the largest Arts in Health Network in Africa with 500 members. Our strength is in our diversity and the power of collaboration,’’ he revealed.
For the 2020/2021 cohort, a shortlist of 200 fellows from Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Sudan, Mauritius, Botswana, Namibia and all over 26 states in Nigeria had been selected to learn the skills of integrating art into the healthcare system in Africa and beyond.
“We believe this is possible through continuous engagement and collaboration with stakeholders such as government agencies, private and public sectors, diplomatic missions, educational and cultural institutions amongst others,’’ he further stated.
Courses in this fellowship programme include Introduction to Arts in Health (Jeff Pufahl), Mental Health and Arts (Onyedikachi Ekwerike), Leadership in Arts and Health: Developing Art-based Interventions (Dominic Campbell), Design Thinking: Health Innovation (Dominic Campbell), Creative Practice for Wellbeing: Performance, Literary/Visual Arts, Dance (Magda Kaczmarska), Visual Arts (Sarah Hinds), Mindfulness (Oyinda Fakeye) and Digital Arts (Kunle Adewale).
Other aspects of the fellowship include fellows’ ideation, internship, report writing, alumni relation and mentoring which is sub-divided into peer-to-peer mentoring and professional mentoring. The peer-to-peer mentoring allows the fellows to be paired in a way that makes it possible for an artist to learn from a healthcare worker and vice versa.
In the keynote address delivered by Achenyo Idachaba-Obaro, she acknowledged the efficacy of art tools as therapy.
“I was at a pediatric ward at UCH where I saw a young boy, bandaged from head to toe. We engaged him with music. The boy used one toe to move to the music and that demonstrated the power of music in the healing process,’’ she recounted.
She marveled at the staggering figure of fellows for this season drawn from 13 countries and enjoined the cohorts to work with other fellows and healthcare providers to bring about a holistic experience for the patients and caregivers. She added that their collectively ability to influence, deliver and impact is determined by their hearts (motivation) and hands (action).