Using the Arts to transform Healthcare worldwide is an emerging field to transform lives worldwide today.
Consequently, the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, the University of Florida Centre for the Arts in Healthcare and the Rwanda Red Cross convened for a two day long East–Central Africa Arts & Health Forum, held on May 13th to 14th, 2011.
The forum brought together several participants from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States.
Anita Boles, Executive Director, Society of the Arts in Healthcare highlighted the importance of integrating the Arts in Healthcare.
“Arts and Health is a recent development emerging in Healthcare where both artists and health professionals are partnering to bring wellbeing, positive change, comfort, fitness and healing to individuals and communities,” said Boles.
Through integrating the Arts in Healthcare, presenters suggested the most effective ways to enhance individual and community health, improve health literacy, and provide new vocational skills to people whose lives are affected by illness and disability.
Lily Yeh, Director of Barefoot Artists, a non-profit arts organisation that empowers communities to improve their lives said that healing comes through creativity.
Through the Rwanda Healing Project, Yeh developed the design for the Rugerero Genocide Memorial Centre and worked with the community to build the site in 2004.
“The wounded will not heal because there is no beauty,” Yeh said, “but when beauty is brought to broken places, the healing of people and communities begins.”
“When people came together and collected Genocide remains, lay them in the new shelves, looked at it and moved on, it was like opening up a wounded heart, moving in, looking at it, cleaning it and then healing begins,” she explained.
Several presenters and participants, mostly artists, health workers, Healthcare administrators, community workers, Government and community leaders as well as students emphasised the value of promoting the development of arts in Healthcare within East and Central Africa.