Back To Rhythm Heart Campaign: A Collaboration Between Philips E.A & The Kenya Red Cross


To commemorate The Word Heart Month and The World Heart Day, Philips East Africa in collaboration with The Kenya Red Cross Society of Kenya launched a multi-month educative campaign called ‘Back To Rhythm’. The campaign which ran from 27-29th September 2017, aimed to create public awareness of the growing incidences of cardiovascular disease in Kenya. So, to create excitement and to reach out to as many people as they could, they created the Automated External Defibrillators (AED) giveaway challenge. Philips would donate an AED for every 152 kilometers biked to The Kenya Red Cross Society of Kenya. They intended to fund the provision of a maximum of 10 AED’s to be placed in public places in Nairobi.

On 27th September, the first day of the campaign, pedometers were placed outside Kenya National Archives and Kawangware. Here the volunteers pedaled as they engaged the passers-by to join them in order to hit the 1520 kilometer mark. There was also training of the public on administering of CPR which was led by the Kenya Red Cross Society. This continued on to the next day where members of the public volunteered to cycle for the cause. Definitely some much-needed exercise as they went about their day’s activities.The band Elani also showed up for an amazing performance.

The month’s campaign came to an end on 29th September which marked The World Heart Day.I was privileged to attend a panel discussion hosted by Philips to talk about cardiac health to encourage education, awareness and open dialogue around the issue.  As we walked into the meeting we found McJessy and his team who had taken up the challenge to cycle for AED’s. His main goal was to get to 152km to acquire an AED for St. Anne’s Mission Hospital. We played our part and got a little workout done as we supported the cause. Seeing that some of us had not worked out in ages, we caught our muscles by surprise. After a little complaining, the muscles got used to it and we felt a little refreshed afterward.

Prior to the talk, Philips announced that a distance of 1264 kilometers had been to achieved so far. In accordance with their agreement, The Philips East Africa CEO, Jasper Westerink presented The Red Cross Society’s Secretary General, Abbas Gullet with 8 AED’s as promised. Just as we were celebrating that amazing achievement, Abbas Gullet announced that Mc Jessy and his team had hit their target of 152 kilometers. He joined us in the celebration as Jasper Westerink handed him the much earned AED. Trust me, riding those bicycles for anything close to a kilometer was no easy fit. The other 8 AED’s would be dispersed to other areas being: the flyover at South B/South C, Ngong Road Prestige Plaza, Langata Road, Lavington Shopping Center, Jogoo Road in Makongeni Police Station, Karen Shopping Center and along Mombasa Road. This is to ensure that quick and efficient medical support is available for people experiencing heart attacks all around Nairobi.

We then went ahead to have the discussion on cardiac health. The talk was moderated by Dr. Mercy Korir who is the KTN medical correspondent. The panel consisted of Dr. Robert Mathenge a cardiologist and the chairman of Heart Attack Concern Kenya, Susan Musilu Thinji a dietician working at Bonsana Nutrition and Wellness, Arnold Mose a fitness instructor at Mofit Fitness and a heart condition survivor Samuel who has lived with his condition for 30 years. The conversation focused on how to live a healthy lifestyle and how to curb and react to heart diseases. The talk also touched on the wider scope of what is being done to ensure that the common mwananchi can access specialized heart-related care.

Dr. Mathenge stated that the key thing in preventing heart attacks is keeping your arteries clean. Damaging or blocking your arteries begins the downward spiral that can lead to shortening of your lifespan. He went ahead to state that majority of heart diseases can be prevented by managing our lifestyles. This includes especially those who were born or developed heart conditions. He stated that heart attacks, diseases, and conditions can easily be fixed or managed. However, lack of enough knowledge on how to handle them and limited specialized facilities to cater to heart issues can sometimes be a hindrance to these things. If a heart attack or condition is caught early, it can easily be stopped before it does any major damage. This is where equipment such as the AED’s come in. They offer heart attack victims higher chances of survival because once they are spread out, it can be easier to access them.

Susan and Arnold offered their professional opinion on how to live a healthier lifestyle. They suggested checking our diet by consciously eating healthier. One can opt to switch out their eggs, bacon or bread with some ngwaci or ndumas for their breakfast. Alternatively, eating last night’s meal for breakfast is sure to give you a healthy start for the day. Another suggestion included keeping our bodies fit by staying active and indulging in at least a little exercise. This way we increase the ratio of muscle to fat in our bodies. Samuel, a heart condition survivor shared his experience with us and the hoops which has had to maneuver in order to live a long life amidst his condition.

At the end of the session, Chef Ali came to remind us that all was not lost. That choosing to live a healthier lifestyle did not doom us to a life of eating nothing but vegetables. He quickly got to work and showed us how to prepare normal dishes in a healthier manner. Even for meals such as hamburgers or steak. A little change in our preparation of red meat is the difference between healthy and unhealthy meals. This would include reducing additives such as mayonnaise and oil. It was a very informative conversation and I doubt anyone at the meeting can say that they did not learn a lot of new things.

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