Hamwe Festival: Taking global health agenda to the next level

Brave Tangz uses art to deliver messages of freedom and happiness. / Courtesy

Art is beneficial to every person’s mental health, patient or not. Studies have found a direct and strong link between the content of images that art offers and the brain’s reaction to pain, stress, and anxiety. 

Many studies have demonstrated the benefits of the arts in healthcare in hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, hospices, and other locations within the community.

Injoge Karangwa, an artiste with health care experience came up with 'Hamwe Festival' as a platform to leverage art to contribute to advancing global health agenda.

"I am a musician with a background in public health. At some point it felt natural for me to bring those two worlds together," she said.

The idea, she added, was to bring her health experience into her new creative life. The University of Global Health Equity bought into the idea.
 
"We believe the festival can help us achieve our goal which is to increase access to health, addressing and reducing health inequities," she noted.
 
Even Rwanda's Health Minister, Diane Gashumba endorsed the initiative, highlighting in a tweet that art and music are the "best way to combat Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs)."
 
Art in healthcare programmes and creative arts therapies have been applied to a vast array of health issues.
 
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), autism and overall mental health, chronic illnesses, Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, neurological disorders and brain injuries, are among others where art is believed to play a healing role. 
 
The direct connection between arts and the healthcare industry has long been established and explored through studies and actual implementation of its findings.
 
Today, arts in healthcare is a diverse, multidisciplinary field dedicated to uplifting and taking the healthcare experience to the next level by connecting people through art and its benefits to patients, their families, and the health workers altogether.
 
This rapidly growing trend integrates the arts — be it visual design, multimedia, and performance, into a wide variety of healthcare as a setting for therapy, education, and expression.
 
King Dusabe, a multi-disciplinary visual artist based in Kigali, believes that through art he is able to communicate ideas 

He draws inspiration from countless events, and he believes that art is "deeply connected to life and that we cannot separate the two."
 
"This is because art allows us to express the social struggle that is needed to make our community a better place," he said.
 
Brave Tangz, another artiste believes through his artwork he can convey a message to his generation - a message of freedom and happiness.
 
Both are among visual artists showcasing their creative artworks at the 'Beauty as Medicine' exhibition curated by MaisonBeaulier which runs until Sunday.
 
On Sunday, French academic, psychoanalyst and philosopher Cynthia Fleury, will also give a talk on the contributions of philosophy to healthcare.

Some of the artworks on display at the Hamwe Festival. The festival seeks to leverage art to promote public health in Rwanda. / Julius Bizimungu

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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