RSPH Arts, Health and Wellbeing Webinar Series

Community arts for health partnerships in African settings

Tue, May 23, 2017 1:00 PM BST


This webinar, chaired by Professor Aliko Ahmed FFPH, Public Health England and African Artists Foundation, will look at two arts for health partnerships in African settings.

Speakers include:

Jill Sonke, Center for Arts in Medicine, University of Florida, United States

Victoria Hume and Tshegofatso Seabi, Health Communication Research Unit, University of Wittswatersrand, South Africa


This first part of this webinar will discuss an art’s for health partnership responding to one of the world’s fastest-growing health problems, Diabetes. In 2015, 347 million people worldwide were reported to be living with diabetes and more than 80% of these live in low- and middle-income countries. More than 8.3% of the South African population live with diabetes, and this figure continues to grow exponentially.

In response to this burgeoning health crisis, the Blood Sugars team – a partnership between the Health Communication Research Unit and Drama for Life (both at the University of the Witwatersrand) – has been working with people who live with diabetes and the clinicians who care for them at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto, to develop a brand new play, starting conversations about a topic rarely discussed in South Africa.

In the first part of this webinar we will discuss the benefits and challenges of this collaboration between social science, applied drama, and state healthcare in an urban South African context. The project has been supported by a Wellcome Trust International Engagement grant, and by South Africa’s National Research Foundation.

The second part of this webinar will discuss how ingrained traditions such as pottery and dance can improve health and social exclusion. The Batwa, or Twa, people were the first inhabitants of the Great Lakes region of East Africa, but today they are one of the poorest and most marginalized communities. As a result, they have extremely poor health and life expectancy as compared to their non-Twa neighbours.

In Rwanda, the Twa are known as the “invisible people”. They suffer severe social and political exclusion and, as a result, they lack access to education, healthcare, and employment. One community of Twa people in Western Rwanda developed a vision to end this discrimination by engaging their deeply ingrained traditions of pottery and dance to make the Twa visible and humanize them in the eyes of other Rwandans.

This community, with partnership support from the Rwanda Red Cross, the Barefoot Artists and the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine, is successfully using the power of their art to ‘be seen’ and to reverse this long history of health-limiting discrimination. The presentation will highlight the project’s key components, including the development of the Pottery Rugerero cooperative and the Itorero Amahoro dance troupe, as well as health and social outcomes data that demonstrate the project’s impacts.

This Webinar Series is supported by: Lankelly Chase

This webinar is part of a series that will be running throughout 2016-2017. There will be more information about future webinars shortly.

Registration for this presentation is not available at this time.