Health Awareness week focuses on mental wellness
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2022/09/health-awareness-week-focuses-on-mental-wellness/
By Vanessa Kyalimpa
First, it was an issue only talked about in hushed tones. Then, the rate of drug abuse increased among students and youth, bringing dialog to the public domain.
Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) Trinity Semester (May-August) Health Awareness Week was part of that domain with the issue of mental wellness and drug abuse fast growing among youth in open discussion.
UCU Guild President Racheal Sserwadda Mirembe said they discovered that there were cartels in Mukono that supply youth and students with drugs, leading to substance abuse. The revelation by Mirembe is not surprising. In March 2022, the Police said at least 16 percent of the youth in urban centers in Uganda are under the influence of drugs.
Tinka Zarugaba, the head of Uganda Police’s anti-narcotics department, said abuse of drugs, such as cannabis, heroin and cocaine, was on the rise, especially in urban areas, greatly affecting the youth. Zarugaba’s remarks were made in March 2022, at a function where close to 50kg of narcotic drug exhibits estimated to be over sh770million (about $200,000) were burned in Kampala.
In June, police arrested four people who were accused of selling drug-laced cookies to students of one of the elite secondary schools in Uganda. The Police said the “drug-bust was carried out after the secondary school suspended 10 students who ordered drug-laced cookies, which they consumed at a school party.”
At the Uganda Christian University Health Awareness Week held in July 2022 at the UCU Guild Grounds, the institution’s students were joined by those from other universities – Makerere, Kyambogo and Makerere Business School.
The campaign, which ran under the theme Say No to Drug and Substance Abuse, was part of the Health Awareness week that is dedicated to providing a general understanding and knowledge about health, health care and its services, health needs, diseases and preventive measures.
It is held every semester and organized by Allan Galpin, UCU’s health center, in conjunction with the UCU Guild Government and the counseling department at UCU, the Ruth Nkoyoyo Wellness Center.
Other health services, such as blood screening and donation, free dental screening and optical screening, were offered at the health week.
Listen to the band advocating against drug abuse
Olivia Kamusiime, a year-three student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Communication, thanked the university and the student leaders for the initiative of the health week. She said that so many students face challenges, which could lead them into abusing drugs, but that with campaigns like those held at the health week, she is optimistic a positive change will be registered.
Josephine Achol, a second-year student pursuing Bachelor of Procurement and Logistics Management, said that she got free eye screening services and realized she had had an underlying eye problem she did not know about.
Ruth Igiraneza, a student of Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Communication, said through the health camp, she was able to know her HIV status, as well as get her eyes checked. She said the extension of the health awareness week activities into the Thursday community worship hour enabled her to know the dangers of self-medication.
“For instance,” Igiraneza said: “I did not know paracetamol (also known as the acetaminophen pain killer) has caffeine in it.”
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