Currently, the United States is facing a revolutionary movement to fight racism, social injustice, and police brutality black people have been experiencing for centuries. The U.S. is also fighting the COVID19 pandemic that is wreaking havoc around the world.
Despite all this turbulence, the African Leadership Group (ALG) has stuck to its core values and mission to serve the community. ALG calls upon you and me to take action to protect each other from COVID19.
To this end, on Saturday, June 13, 2020, the ALG Health and Wellness Committee held a health forum to inform, educate, and empower its community. The theme of the panel was: Coping and maintaining health and wellness during COVID19.
The panel of experts included three well-respected health professionals from Kaiser Permanente, Craig Hospital, and Stride health community center. The overall experience of the panel combined several years of internal medicine, well-being and prevention, clinical research, and community health with uninsured, under-insured, and Medicaid/Medicare patients. The panelists discussed COVID19, symptoms, prevention, testing, and vaccines.
What I learned from the panel is that the world’s best available health experts neither know nor understand well the Coronavirus yet. The list of known symptoms is still growing and changing. On the availability of testing, both swab testing (to detect the infection) and antibody testing (to detect the body’s immune response to the virus) are available to the public in the Denver metro. Although several clinical trials have started and are ongoing, there is not yet a vaccine for COVID19. No effective standard treatment exists as of now.
Therefore, the experts on the panel emphasized the importance of the responsibility each one of us must play, so as not to put others at risk. We have the responsibility to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, and human society. Consequently, each of us has an active role to play to help implement four types of mitigations:
1) Avoiding crowds whenever possible
2) Wearing masks when in public places
3) Washing hands regularly throughout the day
4) Maintaining physical distancing, not social distancing since, as humans, we are social beings.
As a member of the African community, I understand how much of a challenge it is to maintain physical distancing in our homes, and our African community. I know that as we are living in America, we already experience, daily, the stress of a physical and emotional separation from families, friends, and relatives we left behind in our native countries.
The COVID19 pandemic demands physical distancing. Thus, we all need to do our best to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and people in our social communities and our professional organizations. Although COVID19 mandates physical distancing worldwide, it is essential to maintain the social connection with people within our communities for such a connection constitutes a deep-rooted value common to most African cultures.
To the various voices of the African immigrant community in metro Denver who participated in the COVID19 zoom forum: I heard you. I heard from our members who are in the frontlines, health workers, working hard to fight the world’s vicious and not well-known enemy: Coronavirus. I thank you for all your vital health care services and overall effort to protect and take care of the citizens of this country during, and certainly after, COVID19.
ALG gives a “SHOT OUT” to all our brothers and sisters of the African diaspora community working in healthcare: physicians, nurses, and health care workers of long-term care centers. They continue serving the country while putting themselves and their loved ones at-risk daily. Although the news media and the public opinion on COVID19 have paid much attention to elderly patients, I also know the public we have not done enough to bring awareness to your contributions. We at ALG, and the African immigrant community in Denver stand proudly and applaud you every day!
I also heard clearly the Denver metro African diaspora communities. Your opinions and voices expressed during the forum reinforced my firm belief that our diverse African communities’ health needs and challenges are not well known or understood.
As an ALG member, I am more committed than ever to participating in health conversations, at both state and federal levels, and partnering with healthcare organizations to help provide relevant information and resources to our community. I believe good health is an integral part of everyone’s well-being, and access to health care is a human right for all. More importantly, I know that we African immigrants significantly contribute to the U.S. healthcare system.
Hence, I call on the participation of each of you in the community to work with ALG to help all of us have access to the health resources and information that the community needs. It is time to get involved and contribute to finding solutions to our health needs and challenges as a community.