Nana Eyeson-Akiwowo is a woman on a profound mission. Through her organization African Health Now, the 39-year-old has been crusading for the last 10 years to help bring basic health information, health care and resources to Ghanaians and people across the African continent.
Based in New Jersey but of Ghanaian descent, Eyeson-Akiwowo was working in the publishing world in 2006 when her father fell ill in Ghana. There, she experienced first-hand the lack of primary health care available in the West African country. She also noted the ways in which members of the community were compelled to rally around him in order to make sure he received proper care. It was that sense of community she witnessed for her father that formed the catalyst for the creation of African Health Now.
“I took the first step by producing a health fair to provide general medical health screenings to my father’s community,” Eyeson-Akiwowo told The Huffington Post.
“If my father had known previously the importance of screenings or the signs of a heart attack this could have been prevented. I realized this was a much bigger issue. After each health fair and the interaction with our participants, I felt compelled to come back. Now, I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
A decade later, African Health Now services communities by transforming local spaces into medical clinics and bringing education and primary health care such as breast exams and dental care to the people who need it. According to Eyeson-Akiwowo, the organization’s work has impacted over 20,000 people in urban neighborhoods throughout Ghana.
There have been obstacles, as with any grassroots movement, especially in regards to getting human and financial resources to not only keep the organization going in Ghana but so it can expand it to other parts of Africa. Even so, Eyeson-Akiwowo remains dedicated African Health Now.
On Thursday, AHN will host a special star-studded gala event in New York City to raise funds for a plan to deploy 50 mobile health units throughout Ghana over the next 10 to 15 years. It’s an ambitious plan, and one that Eyeson-Akiwowo says she firmly believes in.
“Seeing the joy in a child’s face after their first dental visit is the most rewarding [experience],” Eyeson-Akiwowo said. “Five years from now, we hope to have increased that kind of access to basic health care for Sub-Saharan Africans.”
For more info on African Health Now, visit www.africanhealthnow.org.