Art for Health Project

In collaboration with the Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR), WHO

Art for Health Exhibition, June 2007

Auditorium Parco della Musica of Rome

Art for Health exhibit in Rome

Take action and make a difference for women's health — that was the main message which over 300 members of Rome’s intelligencia and decision-makers took away with them from the opening of an art exhibit on 27 June 2007 at the Auditorium of Rome.

Over 300 VIP’s, government members, scientists and journalists attended the inauguration of the exhibit Art for Health (A4H), organized by the Italian Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health and the nongovernmental organization, IMAGINE Onlus.

The Minister of Health Livia Turco said that A4H communicates a message of peace based on the extraordinary talents and pride of women-- even more noteworthy as they often face many societal and personal challenges. She pointed out that the “right to health” is the most important human right as it is inter-dependant on many others. She also spoke of the concept of " the diplomacy of health", or the facilitation of international collaboration and solidarity which Italy is carrying forward and that A4H is clearly expressing.

Senator Ignazio Marino, the president of the Health Commission in the Italian Parliament emphasized the importance of A4H in raising awareness for reproductive health. He also thanked Dr Mario Merialdi of WHO, as the main force behind this positive initiative.

Elisabetta Farina, the artist, spoke of the concept behind the A4H concept—using visual art as a a new form of communication to communicate a global message on women's health. Ms Farina also spoke of her “Pop Art” style and the use of cartoon style bubbles in which her subjects address the audience. She explained this was chosen because it establishes an intimate relation with the onlooker and allows interactivity. She concluded: "I like being with you in front of a white page where we can draw a tessera which will give birth to many other stories.”

Dr Flavia Bustreo, Deputy Director of The Partnership drew attention to the fact that a woman dies every minute in childbirth – noted as part of a a recent Newsweek article on maternal deaths. She spoke of the financial gap for necessary interventions and the decrease in economic aid. She emphasized Italy’s potential leadership role in international cooperation and health funding with its future role as the chair of the G8 in 2009.

Dr Xiaroui Zhang represented the WHO Director-General (DG) emphasizing the DG’s primary focus on the health of women and Africa. Dr Zhand also praised A4H as an innovative way to provide this message to a larger public.

Dr Roberto Bertollini, the Director of the Special Programme on Health and Environment of WHO Europe underlined the reasons which triggered the involvement of the Italian WHO Office in the project: the use of alternative means for advocacy; the unacceptability of the inequalities that affect women and children; the recognition that women's health in particular suffers from environmental risk factors.

Dr. Vincenzo Berghella, of IMAGINE Onlus, called for immediate action for simple interventions that can make a difference in reducing maternal mortality.

The evening opened with the violinist Alessandra Romano playing a piece of Bach and closed with the recitation of a poem by Alda Merini on the condition of women in the world, a final performance on the violin and a reception offered by the Ministry of Health while the audience admired Elisabetta Farina’s paintings.

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