Health clubs launched in Universities to educate young people on Non-Communicable Diseases

Sep 22, 2014

A student leader addresses fellow students during the launch of the Nkumba University Students Health Club. The club will be key in promoting awareness on good and health life style choices to avoid getting Non-Communicable diseases later in life.

Entebbe - A health club to promote knowledge and awareness of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) has been launched in Nkumba University.

Formation of the club follows a 2013 Risk and Awareness Assessment survey carried out in on a total 2000 students from four universities Makerere University Kampala, Nkumba University, Uganda Christian University (UCU) and Kampala International University which showed that 67% of students did not know what NCDs are.

“After studying the findings of the assessment we did, we realised that the level of knowledge and awareness of NCDs and the associated risk factors among University students is low and as such there is need to do sensitisation for these young people not only to protect themselves against NCDs later on in life but also empower them with knowledge to sensitize their peers too,” Ms. Primah Kwagala the Programme Manager, Policy and Advocacy, CEHURD said in her remarks during the awareness campaign launch at Nkumba University.

It’s for this reason that the UNDP working with CEHURD has launched a University sensitization campaign on NCDs.The campaign, which focuses on university students from four Universities in which the assessment was carried out will help to empower students to join peer to peer trainings on how to lead healthy lives free of NCDs and also create a community of young people who can engage in policy and development issues in Uganda.

As a result of the various engagements with the University students and their leaders, CEHURD has facilitated the development of students’ awareness health clubs to ensure sustainability of the sensitisation campaigns at their respective University campuses.

“The health clubs you have formed should not stop at the launch, but members should continue to sensitize people especially the youth in the target universities about the dangers of these diseases that are slowly eating up the country today,” Ms. Sarah Nakku, Programme Analyst HIV, Health and Development ,UNDP said while addressing the Nkumba University health club members.

She added that the UN supports such campaigns and health clubs being launched in these universities would work hand in hand with the university administration and the student body to ensure that such initiatives are sustained to serve their initial purpose.

The Dean of Students Nkumba University, Mr. David Christopher Kasasa in his remarks welcomed the idea of health clubs and thanked UNDP and CEHURD for targeting young people especially Nkumba University students because

“It is wise to target young people with health information because it is at that young age that lifestyle choices that impact on one’s health are made,” Mr. Kasasa said. .

The chairperson, Nkumba University health club, Mr. Jonathan Kirumira called upon his fellow students to embrace the initiative because it would help them to learn and generate knowledge that they could use to influence policies that affect their health as students at the University.

So far, four health clubs have been established in the four universities of Nkumba, Makerere, Kampala International and Uganda Christian University Mukono. A total of five thousand students have registered to be members of the clubs in all four Universities and registration of new club members is still ongoing.
Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, heart disease, mental disorders and diabetes are becoming increasingly important as causes of illness and death in the Ugandan population.

Although they are not as widespread as HIV/AIDs and Malaria, they are a cause for worry, mostly because they tend to be terminal and very expensive to treat. Commonly known as lifestyle diseases, because they usually stem from unhealthy lifestyles, these diseases continue to spread due to limited knowledge and understanding about them.

The increase in the incidence of chronic non communicable diseases according to Uganda’s Ministry of Health report is predicted to continue over the years fuelled by the increasing exposure of our population to unhealthy lifestyles associated with urbanization. WHO predicts that NCDs will reach epidemic proportions by the year 2025 if NCD preventive, control and surveillance measures are not undertaken immediately.

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