A young African immigrant woman died alone in her apartment after bleeding to death from a ruptured fibroid and wasn’t found until 5 days later. This young woman was scared to seek care at the hospital due to her immigration status and lack of knowledge of services available. Ms. Tiguida Kaba, herself an African immigrant and tireless advocate for other vulnerable members in her community wanted to prevent any other unnecessary deaths and as such founded The African Family Health Organization (AFAHO). AFAHO works to address an unmet need among members of the African and Caribbean immigrant and refugee communities in the greater Philadelphia area who experience difficulties accessing health and human services due to cultural, geographic, linguistic, and other barriers. AFAHO assists, serves and empowers members of these communities in order to improve their access to these services. We serve other people of African descent including African Americans and Afro-Latinos who also face health disparities and lack of access to quality healthcare.

AFAHO has a long history of serving these populations and has been at the forefront of developing creative and culturally-appropriate programs to address their needs. Staff initiated an important and oft-cited needs assessment study in 2005 on the structural and cultural barriers to HIV/AIDS care for African immigrant women in Philadelphia. These barriers to HIV/AIDS care are similar to barriers experienced in other areas of health, and AFAHO continues to develop and implement programs aimed at mitigating these barriers to ensure our target population can access and receive critical health and social services.

Annually, AFAHO provides direct services to nearly 800 members of these communities and reaches another 1,000 through community outreach and education with a small staff of committed individuals. Based on estimates of there being nearly 100,000 African and Caribbean immigrants in the greater Philadelphia area, with varied needs, we are poised and ready to meet these needs; anticipating growth and support. We are committed to assisting those hard-to-reach and under served members of the population most impacted by health disparities in order to improve their health outcomes.

Based on community assessments of the African Diaspora, we have found that focusing on preventive healthcare is essential to improving the long-term health of these communities. Prevention, screening and treatment services are critical in addressing chronic conditions that have a disproportionate impact on people of African descent. This is central to our mission and we aim to expand our prevention, education and access to treatment programs to Africa and the Caribbean.