On June 26th, 2021, Frederica M. Williams, President & CEO of Whittier Street Health Center in Boston and a Sierra Leonean, hosted the center’s 21st Annual Men’s Health Summit. At the summit, several Men’s Health Champions from diverse backgrounds were honored and one of the honorees is Reverend Christo Kamara (photo), also a Sierra Leonean.
Reverend Christo A. Kamara, is Senior Pastor and Founder of St. Paul’s Victory Christian Assembly of God, Boston Massachusetts. He attended Evangel Theological Bible College, and the Theological School of Missions, of Assemblies of God Mission, and is an Ordained Minister by the General Council of the Assemblies of God. As a trusted faith-leader to many Sierra Leoneans in Boston, Reverend Christo Kamara has been critical in addressing vaccine access and hesitancy. Reverend Kamara partnered with Frederica M. Williams and her to staff to increase access to COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, health care and social services. As a trusted faith leader and advocate, people who would not have had access to the Covid-19 vaccine, have been provided with the resources needed to protect themselves from the disease. We are proud to count Reverend Kamara as one of our Men’s Health Champions at this year’s Men’s Health Summit. Reverend Kamara is happy married to his beloved and beautiful wife, Lucy Kamara with whom God has blessed with three beautiful girls: Marilyn, Christina and Lovetta.
This year’s theme for the Whittier Street Health Center Men’s Health Summit was “Men Take Action on Holistic Health and COVID-19: Physical, Mental & Economic Wellbeing,” which was chosen not only to highlight the far reaching effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also to educate people about the importance holistic health plays in everyday life. Even those who did not experience the coronavirus first hand most likely experienced ancillary effects due to the plethora of changes that occurred over the past 15 months—whether that involved reduced social activity, job loss, or the increased anxiety of living during a pandemic. Covid-19 touched every aspect of all of our lives—in one way or another.
Frederica Williams and Reverend Christo Kamara
At the summit, Frederica M. Williams stated that “after a year unlike any other it is wonderful that we are able to host this very important event to celebrate members of our community who champion men’s health, educate our community about the current state of men’s health, and identify the steps our community members can take to improve their overall health and wellbeing. This year’s theme “Men Take Action on Holistic Health and COVID-19: Physical, Mental & Economic Wellbeing,” was chosen not only to highlight the far reaching effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also to educate people about the importance holistic health plays in everyday life. Even those who did not experience the coronavirus first hand most likely experienced ancillary effects due to the plethora of changes that occurred over the past 15 months—whether that involved reduced social activity, job loss, or the increased anxiety of living during a pandemic. Covid-19 touched every aspect of all of our lives—in one way or another.
Holistic health refers to caring for the whole person by fulfilling your physical, mental, spiritual, social and economic needs as all of these aspects play a role in overall health. There are many factors that go into holistic health so today we hope to educate and provide resources that will help our guests make positives choices when it comes to their own well-being. The goal of today’s summit is two-fold to provide our community with the resources necessary to fight the many health and social issues negatively impacting our lives, and to share action steps that can be taken proactively to promote wellness. Wellness goes beyond yearly doctor’s visits and seeking treatment when you are ill: wellness involves making conscience decisions daily to positively impact your long term health. While we were all negatively impacted by the pandemic, but there is a current and urgent need to prioritize men’s health related to the COVID-19 response. The statistics shows that men have been dying at far higher rates than women since the earliest days of the pandemic. Women experience more economic and social hardship, but the mortality rates for men is high. These gender inequities are even greater when we consider age and race. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report of vaccine dissemination in the first month found that only about 40% of those who received the first dose were men.
As of May 2021, our Whittier Street Health Center nurses have administered over 45, 935 COVID-19 tests identifying more than 3,600 infected persons with the disease. Of those tested by our team, 47% were men and 53% were women. In three months, our vaccinators have administered close to 18,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, and of that number 44% were men and 56% were women. There were a number of articles that sought to explain these differences between men and women in testing, mask wearing, and resistance to COVID-19 guidelines and mandates. The high rates of mortality for men has been attributed to behavior and perceptions of mortality.”
Frederica shared some of the efforts her dedicated colleagues have embarked on to close the gaps in men’s health which includes:
Educational campaigns and events focused on men are important to close the mortality gap. As an organization that has a deep commitment to men’s health we are working on several solutions to enrich and improve the lives of men including:
Working with our Community Health Workers and Men’s Health Ambassadors to educate our men, especially our brown and black men,
Offering educational programs that will help men change their attitudes, and beliefs,
Increase healthcare utilization such as COVID-19 screenings and vaccinations, and linkage to care and support,
To optimize men’s willingness to receive the vaccine, we are working with subgroups of men to serve as spokespeople that they trust to provide balanced and accurate information to help men make informed decisions about vaccinations and other protective behaviors.
We have also launched several gender-focused programs to support the physical, mental, spiritual health of our men such as our BRUHs which is a group model for men to address mental and emotional health.
Frederica Williams also stated that “The support of our Men’s Health Champions including Reverend Christo Kamara had allowed her organization, Whittier Street Health Center, to not only be a resource, but an asset to our patients and community residents who need to find a way to overcome the many barriers that stand between them and health equity! We all know that our Health is Wealth. To be at our best we all need to consistently practice good health and make positive decisions to ensure long term wellness.”
Originally Appeared Here