BAME HCAs: the true measure of wealth is good health

When BAME HCAs winner Dr Danso realised the healthcare needs of her friends and family were underserved, she decided to do something about it…

Dr Adwoa Danso is a General Practitioner (GP) in Essex, and the Health and Wellbeing Advocate winner of the National BAME Health & Care Awards (BAME HCAs) 2019.

Dr Danso is a board member of the Ghanaian Doctors and Dentists Association UK and a resident GP on ‘The Medical Show’ on GN Radio – an African radio station that provides news and stories from Ghana. 

Wanting to do more for her community, she launched her YouTube channel The Clinic Diaries and has worked with Melanin Medics and NHS Blood Donation on their campaign the ‘Black Donation Appeal’. Her videos on ‘cervical screening’ and ‘how to check your blood pressure at home’ have been the most popular.

What inspired you to start The Clinic Diaries?

Very early on as a GP, it was clear that my family and friends would ask me questions about their health, but for several reasons did not feel able to ask their GPs. Taboo areas were frequently the subject.

I set up The Clinic Diaries, a platform to educate and empower people so they can make informed decisions regarding their health. I really believe this is key to improve health here and also back home in Ghana.

How has it helped the BAME community?

Social media has helped to spread the word. Information is far more accessible, and I feel encouraged to see people who have previously felt marginalised and failed by the health service appear confident and assertive.

From the feedback and positive messages, I have received, from as far away as Ghana and the USA, the advice has helped greatly. Topics including men’s health, fertility and mental health are the most well-received.
How has your career changed since winning at the BAME HCAs?

The win has given me more confidence to scale the work that I am doing.

I have been fortunate to have been featured in Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan and Refinery 29 magazines. Article titles have included ‘Giving birth while black: Why is it so much more fraught with danger’ and ‘Can I get the contraceptive pill in lockdown.’

Following the untimely death of George Floyd and the evidence demonstrating that black and other minority ethnic groups are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, I have been involved in difficult, important, discussions about the issue of racism within the healthcare service and also as a barrier to access healthcare. Although these issues have long existed, recent events have brought these concerns to the forefront.

A multilevel, systemic approach is required to tackle this. Most recently, I spoke at Oxford University on the topic ‘Racism as a public health crisis,’  where  I talked about the experiences of racial harassment and bullying within the NHS. One in four black women in the NHS has sadly experienced this.

I stressed racism simply could not go hand in hand with good leadership.  In order to ensure patient care be a priority, BAME staff require allies. It is for all to speak out against discrimination in every form. The event was a huge success. It is a positive step to address the disparities that exist within healthcare.

How are you going to continue to help the BAME community?

I believe that an effective workforce is a diverse and inclusive one, which is one of the reasons why I would like to be in a leadership role and be influential in health policy within the Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS England.

Further down the line, I want to set up a fund to aid my community that focuses on mentoring and supporting prospective medical students from the black community. It is important that young professionals have role models and can relate to other health professionals in senior roles.

Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate the work this underrepresented group of individuals do. You can nominate your candidate, or yourself by visiting The National BAME Health & Care Awards site or clicking here.
 Support the cause by using the #BAMEHCA21 and #celebratingexcellence.
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