By Valereen Mwahulhwa
In an effort to prioritise the health and well-being of its students, Uganda Christian University (UCU) recently held a Health Awareness Week (HAW) at UCU. The event, which commenced on October 29th and is scheduled to run until November 3rd, has drawn attention for its diverse range of activities aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle among the student body.
Organised by the University Health Services under Allan Galpin in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the guild government, Health Awareness Week featured an array of free medical services and educational sessions. Students had the opportunity to participate in activities such as blood donation, body mass index (BMI) screenings, cervical cancer screening, breast examinations, deworming, HIV testing, optical screening, dental screenings, mental health counselling, vaccination, and menstrual hygiene sessions. Notably, the event also focused on addressing critical issues like mental health, drug and substance abuse, and sex education through a symposium.
Dr. Harriet Birabwa, a senior consultant psychiatrist, cautioned students against the use of drugs. She said that no one starts using drugs with the aim of becoming addicted; however, once they start, it is hard to stop. “Once they try to withdraw from the drugs, one suffers from withdrawal effects, which makes it hard for one to stop taking drugs,” added Birabwa.
Pamela Tubweza, the Director of Student Affairs (DOSA), encouraged the students to make use of the university services. “We are here to help you, and the university staff is here to overcome your challenges,” said Tubweza.
One of the key objectives of Health Awareness Week was to break down barriers surrounding menstruation. To achieve this goal, the organisers initiated a campaign called #LearnDontShame, which aims to dispel myths and stereotypes associated with menstruation. The campaign encouraged students to contribute by donating sanitary pads, underwear, toilet paper, and other essential items. This initiative seeks to foster a supportive environment where menstruation is openly discussed, eliminating shame and fostering understanding.
Victoria Nantambi, the Minister of Health in the guild government, emphasised the importance of Health Awareness Week. She stated that the event was not only an opportunity for students to access free medical services but also a platform for debunking misconceptions about menstruation. In her statement, Nantambi highlighted the significance of promoting a healthy lifestyle among students, underscoring the vital role of physical and mental well-being in academic success.
The Health Awareness Week, spanning across UCU campuses, including Kampala and the School of Medicine and Dentistry, served as a testament to the university’s commitment to the holistic development of its students. By offering a wide range of medical services and educational initiatives, UCU empowered its students to prioritise their health and embrace a healthier way of living. Through collaborative efforts and insightful discussions, the event succeeded in fostering a supportive and informed community where students are encouraged to prioritise their well-being in their academic pursuits and beyond.