The sounds of African drums rang in the official opening of the new Taibu Community Health Centre for the black community and Malvern residents on Wednesday evening.
“This is a community health centre, so we are providing primary health care, health promotion, disease prevention and community development programs for the community here in Malvern,” said Liben Gebremikael, executive director at Taibu. “We also mandate to provide program services for the African and Caribbean population.
“It’s geographically based but it’s population-focused, so we are based in [and] serve all the residents in Malvern, but we also have a specialized focus on the black community across the Greater Toronto Area.”
Taibu opened in 2008. It was temporarily located across the street from its new location, now at 27 Tapscott Rd.
All the services Taibu offers are free and the centre is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
“In terms of the gap in health outcomes, particularly for the black community and racialized population, we are affected disproportionately,” Gebremiakel said. “For example, with diabetes we are at a very great risk of developing diabetes.”
“As a result of that, Toronto public health teamed up with Taibu … to try to address the issue of diabetes through prevention,” said Kareen Marshall, community outreach worker and member of the diabetes team at Taibu. “One of the major differences between our program and some of the other programs is we do the risk assessment and say, ‘Yes, you are at high risk.’ But we don’t just say, ‘Okay, go to your doctor and follow up with them.’
“We actually develop programs specifically for them. They come out to an eight–10 week program [where] we hope folks will continue with the changes.”
“At the end, what we want is the community to be empowered enough to be looking after their own health and taking charge and making decisions about their own health,” Gebremikael said.