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“Colonial virus”: COVID-19, creative arts and public health communication in Ghana

de-Graft Aikins, A; Akoi-Jackson, B; (2020) “Colonial virus”: COVID-19, creative arts and public health communication in Ghana. Ghana Medical Journal , 54 (4) pp. 86-96. 10.4314/GMJ.V54I4S.13. Green open access

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Abstract

Since March 2020, Ghana's creative arts communities have tracked the complex facets of the COVID-19 pandemic through various art forms. This paper reports a study that analysed selected 'COVID art forms' through arts and health and critical health psychology frameworks. Art forms produced between March and July 2020, and available in the public sphere - traditional media, social media and public spaces - were collated. The data consisted of comedy, cartoons, songs, murals and textile designs. Three key functions emerged from analysis: health promotion (comedy, cartoons, songs); disease prevention (masks); and improving the aesthetics of the healthcare environment (murals). Textile designs performed broader socio-cultural functions of memorialising and political advocacy. Similar to earlier HIV/AIDS and Ebola arts interventions in other African countries, these Ghanaian COVID art forms translated public health information on COVID-19 in ways that connected emotionally, created social awareness and improved public understanding. However, some art forms had limitations: for example, songs that edutained using fear-based strategies or promoting conspiracy theories on the origins and treatment of COVID-19, and state-sponsored visual art that represented public health messaging decoupled from socio-economic barriers to health protection. These were likely to undermine the public health communication goals of behaviour modification. We outline concrete approaches to incorporate creative arts into COVID-19 public health interventions and post-pandemic health systems strengthening in Ghana.

Type: Article
Title: “Colonial virus”: COVID-19, creative arts and public health communication in Ghana
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.4314/GMJ.V54I4S.13
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.4314/gmj.v54i4s.13
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s). This is an Open Access article under the CC BY license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: COVID-19, creative arts, public health communication, behaviour change, Ghana
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > SHS Faculty Office
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > SHS Faculty Office > UCL Institute for Advanced Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124534
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