ARTS IN MEDICINE by Mbama Chisom

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The Arts in Medicine fellowship is an initiative of Tenderarts Nigeria, headed by Mr Adewale Kunle, a Mandela Washington fellow. It is aimed at inspiring healing, hope and happiness for patients in Nigeria healthcare institutions through active engagements in visual and performing arts; and is the pioneers of such in Africa.

The 2018 edition of Arts in Medicine was the maiden edition and its theme was UPLIFTING SPIRITS. It consisted of young artists, patient caregivers, Nursing students, Dental students and Medical students.

The inaugural launching of the Arts in Medicine 2018 cohort took place on the 11th of Feburary, 2018 at the National Sickle Cell centre. In attendance were the likes of Darcy Zotter, the Public Affairs Officer, United State Consulate General, Lagos; Dr. Bunmi Omojowolo, the chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association Lagos chapter; Mufu Onifade, the Deputy Director, Curatorial Services, National Gallery of Art and many others. It featured presentations by certain officials, a tour of the arts dimension of the sickle cell centre, a panel discussion titled ‘building a healthier society through arts and many more.

Over the course of the following weeks, the fellows worked tirelessly, designing, drawing, painting, creating and making art works, to give hope to patients. Visits were made to hospitals like the Federal Neuropsychiatry hospital, Yaba; and the oncology ward of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, where patients participated in creation of these art works, and it was a fulfilling experience for all. Each art work had a unique story to tell. It was amazing, awesome and therapeutic.

The arts exhibition ran from the 24th to 25th of March, 2018 at the Terrakulture gallery, where the works were displayed. In attendance were representatives from the United States consulate, the national director and CEO of the National Sickle Cell centre, the chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association and other dignitaries. It began with an introductory speech by Mr Kunle Adewale, followed by the song ‘heal the world’ sung by everyone. short remarks were given by the dignitaries in attendance, and then, the tour round the displayed artworks began, with each story being told at every point.

Amazingly, all the created work are not to be sold, but donated to hospitals for free, as part of Arts in Medicine’s aim to ‘inspire a conversation on integration of arts into Nigerian healthcare, the potentials, prospects, and partnership between the arts industry and healthcare practitioners in Nigeria.’ The therapeutic aspect of art in healing patients is becoming known, and Arts in Medicine have come to stay. More arts, less pills, greater health.

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