Art & Healthcare?

Vicki MiddletonCulture, Health systems strengthening, Healthcare, Nutrition

Art & Health?

Are you inspired by art? In Sierra Leone art not only inspires but helps improve healthcare outcomes for women and children.

Sierra Leone has for decades had high maternal and infant mortality rates.  In addition, malnutrition is prevalent among young children.  Educating this population can be challenging as the literacy among females is very low.  According to the most recent Demographic and Health Survey,  women’s  literacy rate in Sierra Leone is 36%.

Creative response helps improve healthcare outcomes

However by painting pictures on the outside and inside of clinics, important health messages such as breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months or recommendations on the proper foods for getting essential vitamins to young children are being conveyed.

Pictured above is Father Peter Konteh, Executive Director Caritas-Freetown and Sister Josephine Amara, Health Coordinator Caritas-Freetown at Christ the King Hospital, the latest facility added to the Charity Health Network.  Christ the King Hospital is located outside Freetown in Waterloo, a former refugee site during Sierra Leone’s civil war in the 1990s.  The Waterloo community has welcomed this new facility, especially the antenatal, infant care, and nutrition services.

Painting depicts health message

Admiring the painting which depicts the needed proteins, fats, and vegetables that should be fed from 6-24 months, Sister Josephine commented, “It is a simple but effective way to provide the information necessary to improve health outcomes and is a practice used throughout the country.” 

HealeyIRF Program Manager Ishmael Charles added, “Pictures leave a lasting image in the mind.  Like movies, they last longer and aid comprehension.”

So not only is “a picture worth a thousand words” – a picture is also worth improved health outcomes!


Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.

Edgar Degas

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