Working in Partnership to Advance the Health and Well-Being of the Black Community

Black Health Alliance

AGM Monday September 26, 2011 at Foresters Conference Centre

789 Don Mills Rd.

6 pm - 7:30 pm.

International Year for People of African Descent

If we cross the river together, the alligators won’t bother us.

~ African proverb

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Who We Are

The Black Health Alliance (BHA) is a non-profit, community-based corporation consisting of community organizations, health and social service professionals, and community members working in partnership to advance the health and well-being of the Black community.

Founded in 2000, the original BHA vision was to create a unified voice to address the serious inequities in health that many in the Black community were experiencing. To achieve that goal BHA would have to be an organization that could foster strong collaboration and partnerships between various community organizations and agencies and community members. But as in any organization, vision alone, without voice, action, and the community, can not lead to success.

In 2002 the nation was undertaking a review of Canada’s health care system. BHA’s submission to the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada was one of but a few which not only made recommendations on creating an equitable, feasible and sustainable health care system, but also addressed racial disparities in health care and provided workable solutions.

In 2004 the Ontario Government was moving forward with its health care reform. Again the leadership of BHA seized the opportunity and submitted a proposal for a Family Health Team which would provide culturally competent programs and services and develop specialization in serving Black and marginalized communities.

These two initiatives required significant communication, collaboration, and information sharing between numerous community groups, agencies and community stakeholders. Our efforts were rewarded when BHA was approved funding in 2006 from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to establish a Community Health Centre (CHC) for Malvern – TAIBU (Kiswahili for “be in good health”) CHC.

In 2005 BHA completed a significant community –based research project entitled, “How do Scarborough’s Black Youth Access The Health Care System?” This report provided recommendations to health care planners, providers and policy makers to enhance the quality of life of Black youth in marginalized neighbourhoods. This report was selected for presentation at the 2007 Annual Ontario Public Health Association Conference.

Over the years as the scope and magnitude of the work BHA engaged in grew there was a need to simultaneously undertake a capacity building process. In 2004-2005 and 2007-2008 through a combination of strategic planning workshops, member survey’s and interviews, and a needs assessment, BHA refined its vision and mission statements, focused its activities, revised its organizational structure and successfully completed the non-profit incorporation of the organization.

Today, excited about the future BHA continues to collaborate and build new partnerships with groups such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and work on initiatives that will lead to policy change such as the Inner City Health Strategy and we will bolster and support our community and organization members.

This is the essence of the Black Health Alliance, to be an agent of change as much as it is to be a supportive family. There are many rivers to cross, but as one BHA member often exclaims, “if we cross together, the alligators won’t bother us”.