Brazza International Foundation

BRAZZA International Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that engages in community development activities designed to improve healthcare, education, socio-economic, and agricultural development in underserved communities in Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria. BRAZZA supports educational and community development programs that are locally conceived,  designed, implemented, and evaluated, while putting a major focus on health and youth. These underserved communities are frequently impoverished and lack adequate healthcare, access to education and agricultural development for women and girls. As such, our programs focus on gender and health equity. At this time, we are seeking financial assistance for our community health fair clinic in rural Ghana. This health fair is part of a 10 day study tour to enhance and provide healthcare services, training, and distribution of modern medical equipment and supplies to these rural areas.


Mission

Our mission is to provide capacity building in the areas of healthcare, education, and agriculture in conjunction with fellow NGOs to assist  underserved communities in the US and other developing nations.


Organizational History

BRAZZA International Foundation (BIF) is a non-profit organization in Maryland.Our focus is to impact healthcare in Ghana through healthcare workforce training, equipping rural healthcare centers to treat COVID-19 cases, to provide public awareness of the healthcare challenges faced with COVID-19, and to ensure healthcare and social protections are available to rural and developing communities. Our educational and development programs for youth are designed to enable self-sustainability and alleviate poverty in the region through self-help initiatives and participatory development projects. Our goal in education is to design and create feasible educational programs throughout West Africa.


We are a new organization that formed during the COVID-19 pandemic. We identified several African countries who were impacted greatly by the pandemic and realized how seriously the health disparities were in the rural communities. This was undermining peace in the community  and hampered critical contributions to basic social and economic development. Those areas were: food security, education, and employment. This motivated Brazza to engage in the first trip to Ghana where we provided food, water, and other essentials to the communities in need.


The demographics we serve are primarily older women and youg children in rural areas of Ghana (Besoro-Kumawu), the Ashanti  Region, and Anne Arundel. The countries addressed include Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria.


Problem
Food shortages, population growth, climate disruption, and limited connectivity are 

significant stressors for sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Already vulnerable 

populations such as women and ethnic minorities are at an increasingly higher risk for these stressors. Rural female subsistence and small-enterprise farmers in the Ashanti region of Ghana face significant challenges, including declining soil productivity, crop damage from pests and weeds, persistent poverty, bush fires, limited access to healthcare, and limited access to financing and production inputs. Still, agriculture is a dominant solution for poverty reduction and livelihood improvement, given its critical micro and macroeconomic role in Ghana.


The developing nations of West Africa have a long history of negligence and exploitation. A result of this has been inadequate transportation, education, and government funding to provide essential healthcare services. Since there are no adequate health care services available in this region, our mission is essential to the well-being of the region since the only people who receive adequate services of any kind are those of a higher socioeconomic background.  COVID-19 brought unforseen medical crises in many nations, and it was completely devastating in rural West Africa. The local community is left with traditional methods due to lack of healthcare services. Even if services are available, they are not affordable for most of the population. There are government clinics, but they are overwhelmed, overstressed, and lack sufficient medical supplies for the villagers.


"I have seen the faces of Africa’s future…..They have convinced me of the difference America can make if we are a genuine partner and friend of Africa, and the difference a new Africa can make to America’s own future" President Clinton, Senegal, 1998.


In March of 2022, we witnessed firsthand the realities of their situation. We performed data collection and analysis through interviews of 150 participants over a three day period. These structured interviews were performed with control and sample groups in order to identify the quantitative data required. This led us to identify what was needed in the community and the best way that Brazaa International Foundation could assist. 


Most of the community members have been dianosed with numerous ailments, but unable to pay for healthcare services. In many cases, this is a death sentence. In addition, the ailments lead to family stigmatization. This leads to them disappearing from the community due to their inability to pay for treatment. Family members will encourage them to utilize alternative traditional methods as a last resort. Our priority now is to provide free medical services and equipment to the communities so that they can receive the care they desperately need.


Partnerships
BRAZAA’s goal is to work in partnership with fellow NGOs in these regions to provide additional support services to our unique programs. Our current partners are Project C.U.R.E., Tangeant Health, and Johns Hopkins University - Bloomberg School of Public Health. 


  • Project C.U.R.E. donates medical quipment to the facilities in Ghana.
  • Tangeant Health donates their services.
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provides medical students who delivery onsite assistance alongsie local doctors during our community health fair.
  • BRAZZA provides basic training and healthcare services in the rural communities, distribute the medical supplies, and assist the women farmers in their agricultural services.
  • NY Institute of Technology
  • Brigham Young University, Marriott School of Business
  • Ghana Ministry of Health
  • University of Ghana School of Public Health
  • George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs



In Besoro-Kumawu, Ghana-local leadership, under the direction of Chief Nana Oheneba Owusu Ntiamoa Kantamko commissioned BRAZZA International Foundation (BRAZZA) to assist in expanding and regularizing participants in his farming coalition. In 2021 Brazza International Foundation created the BRAZZA Women's Agricultural Cooperative Initiative and partnered with Chief Nana Oheneba Owusu Ntiamoa Kantamko - Abasehene, Besoro-Kumawu. Both are working together to empower and improve the livelihoods of female farmers in Besoro-Kumawu, Ghana, by reducing food insecurity, and increasing Climate Smart Agriculture methodology; a methodology that emphasizes the use of new technologies to increase production quantity and quality, by making maximum use of resources, while minimizing the environmental impact. 


Programs

BRAZZA International has two primary programs in operation at this time. The first program is our Global Health Program. The second program is our Smart Agriculture Program. Although separate programs, they actually inform one another and work cohesively to address the overall health of the community. 



Global Health Program

BRAZZA Community Health Fair and Engagement will take place in Kumawu-Besoro, Ghana in the spring of 2024. If we are not able to reach our funding goals for this year, we will request to delay this in order to ensure an effective effort takes places. We are investing very intently in a successful health fair that not only assesses the community’s current state of health, but in partnership with Tangent Health, they are also participating in research for revolutional health technology that has already been approved in the European Union for cardiovascular testing. The research for this project will help feed the support for FDA approval in the United States. Additionally, it will also assess the physical differences between those in Ghana and the United States and how their healthcare may need to be addressed differently.

BRAZZA’s goal with the health fair is to be a contributing factor that helps rebuild the local community’s (Besoro) health care ssytem through education and training of current and future healthcare workers. The ultimate goal is ease in access to affordable medical care: check-ups, basic treatment, maternal and pediatric care, medicine, and emergency services. During this health fair, medical personnel from varous western medical training centers will provide health promotion, educaiton, medical and surgical treatments as well as preventative healthcare services.


The estimated number served is between 200-350 people. Activities performed will be as follows:

  1. Preventive screening: weight, heights, body mass index, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
  2. Health education: diet, exercise, weight management, dental hygiene, immunizations, smoking and alcohol cessation, hypertension, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, stress reducation and anger management, and personal hygiene. 
  3. Minor medical or surgical procedures.
  4. Education on reproductive health: personal hygeine items will be provided for women and girls to encourage menstruation care.
  5. Nutrition education: information related to food nutrition, clean drinking water, environmental pollution, preventative health care, and family planning education.


Services provided by partnerships - healthcare personnel, medicines, surgical and medical supplies.


Protocols

  1. Patient rights strictly enforced: privacy, information, life, and quality care.
  2. Sterilized equipment and procedures.
  3. Biomedical waste disposal protocols.
  4. Improvements in WHO statute implementation pertaining to quality care delivery: effective, efficient, accessible, acceptable/patiet-centered, equitable, and safe.


Tangent Health Partnership

The two primary gaps in healthcare that plague most rural areas of Africa are affordability and effective heart disease screening tools. Asymptomatic heart disease kills more than 50% of those who experience their first heart attack. Tangent health has developed an improved testing mechanism that delivers efficient and more effective testing with their Plainsight technology. The sensitivity of the equipment is 3X higher than the current EKG equipment found in hospitals worldwide. The specificity it delivers stands at 88%. Current practices are slower, offer multiple testing through various equipment types and end up being very costly. This eliminates the delays, the need for multiple tests and equipment. Ultimately bringing more effective test results for a fraction of the cost. Additionally, they offer access to electronic medical records through the Azure cloud system, accessible worldwide with proper HIPPA compliance, by cell phone. 


To learn more about the way the system works, you can visit the following YouTube link: https://youtu.be/ufgKAGiV_Eg?si=HfnxFT4yu3MW5FYe. As you can see in the video there is a medical algorithm that analyzes and captures EKG signals and within 30 seconds and returns a 3d image of the heart replete with color coded indications of either healthy (green) or pathologic heart tissue (red).  The output also provides a myocardial risk score that assesses the severity of any existing pathology. 


Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia have higher incidence of prevalence rate for heart disease than most other areas worldwide. Offering this service free of charge during the health fair will help these developing regions with a clearer understanding of the population’s health. The equipment is also being inserted in Ghana’s military hospital. By providing these services free of charge, Tangent can build a machine learning model which helps these countries know the etiology and epidemiology of the disease and have the ability to better triage the health of the population.


Climate Smart Agriculture Through Climate-Smart Technologies

Technology and data-driven techniques optimize farming practices, increase efficiency, and improve crop yields while minimizing resource usage and environmental impact.


Empowering Female Farmers in Besoro-Kumawu

Advancing Sustainable Agriculture through Climate-Smart Technologies (CSA)

This program supports female farmers to improve their farming by learning new techniques, and

receiving research help and business knowledge. We provide the farming tools and supplies for them to be able to grow and sell increasing and healthier crops. This program will enable them to lead better lives while also caring for the environment.


Climate change impact is most severe in regions where the population is already struggling with food insecurity. Their vulnerability is an issue that needs to be addressed to lessen the shocks they will experience as our world continues to change due to climate change. This requires education and access to technological advances that can aid them in their future planning and simultaneously aid women in leading the charge. Our project will track progress and intermediate results in order to aid decisions on project adjustment and implementation. 


The purpose of this pilot program is to evaluate the success in improving the livelihoods of rural female subsistence and small-enterprise farmers (RuFSEFs) while alod identifying areas for improvement. The two areas of focus are: reducing food insecurity and developing a unique farming model. The farming model uses remarkable innovative technologies that grow more abundant and healthier crops utilizing fewer resources and simultaneously caring for the environment. 


Partnership
Due to the inherent intersection between health and agriculture, BRAZZA has engaged George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs’ Capstone Team to assess and report the findings. Their findings demonstrated the effectiveness of the practices utilized by the female farmers in the community and suggested possible areas for improving their farming practices. The two suggestions offered after the study were that the farmers should collaborate with the country’s public and farming organizations and to establish a united group of female farmers to negotiate fees, share equipment, access training, borrow funding, and actively participate in the market.


This qualitative study used a quasi-experimental structure to compare beneficiaries to non-beneficiaries. It included training & a quasi lending system. This quasi loan system prompted the assessment team to conduct interviews with stakeholders in the Besoro community about the economy. During stakeholder interviews, the team found that the Besoro community's economic growth was slow. Chief Nana Oheneba Owusu Ntiamoa Kantamko uniformly purchased and distributed fertilizer. He adopted this method because the stakeholders lacked funds. The chief funded the stakeholders first, and then the stakeholders returned the fertilizer money to the chief after the crops were sold. Although there are some farmers in the Besoro community intercropping cocoa and maize, sometimes farmers do not have the money to buy herbicides to use. Furthermore, chemical fertilizers are a huge expense and unaffordable for some low-income farmers. In addition to measuring performance, the research study tour focused strategically on Climate Smart Agriculture innovations, which will benefit and strengthen the agricultural technologies and practices to enhance greater productivity. 


Brazza can now provide training and resources to these female farmers; significantly improve the living standards of women farmers by increasing productivity, optimizing resource efficiency, and enhancing resilience to climate change. Through CSA practices, women farmers gain access to diversified sources of income, improved markets, and increased decision-making power, which will lead to empowerment and financial stability. Moreover, CSA fosters food security, reduced environmental impact, and enhanced financial resources. By forming coalitions and cooperatives, women farmers can collectively negotiate fees, share equipment, and access vital resources, further boosting their productivity, incomes, and overall well-being. The farmers will work together with local organizations to make life better for the farmers and their communities. They want to help the farmers improve their economic situation and use safe agriculture practices for not solely their well-being, but also the well-being of their communities. 


There are three thematic areas of impact identified:

  1. Human impact: the ability to care for large households, pay for their children’s education, and have access to healthcare. 
  2. Economic impact: increased profitability from front end access to input markets and selling markets, the ability to hire help for the farm
  3. Capacity impact: Closing the community inequality gap, ability to share information about species conversion, and expanding farming acreage.
  4. Aspirations: Expanding farms more for higher yields, additional composting capacity must rely on rain and crop fall, and more efficient mixed cropping


The overall goal of our assessments, and monitoring and evaluation activities is to effectively guide the transition of climate-smart agriculture pilots into wider scale climate-smart agriculture programs that are successfully implemented on the ground in Ghana and throughout West Africa. Experience has shown that throughout the planning, monitoring and evaluation and learning processes it is important to apply participatory, gender-sensitive approaches and methods to increase the involvement of beneficiaries and stakeholders and foster continuous country ownership and commitment. This is particularly important when enhancing system-wide capacities for climate-smart agriculture. 


For climate-smart agriculture interventions, participatory monitoring and evaluation becomes essential as it is needed to receive feedback from the intended beneficiaries on the innovations that have been proposed to improve adaptation, mitigation and livelihood in situations of uncertainty and change; refine or change these practices over time; and build knowledge on what interventions might work for a given locale or agricultural system. 




Brazza International Foundation
Zemii Media and Publishing Group LLC, Shella Zelenz October 23, 2023
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