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“From concerns to actions in public health”
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“From concerns to actions in public health”

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Olurogba Badewo John pic

Promoting public health requires action as well as words, writes Olurogba John Badewo, 27, a Correspondent from Ile-Ife in Nigeria, who describes programs designed to reach vulnerable rural populations.

Action definitely speaks louder than voice. When it comes to the health of the public, action is the watchword.

The act of making our society better must not be left in the hands of the government only. Little wonder youth are constantly admonished to participate or innovate things that will make for a better society. According to the UNFPA, there are more young people in the world than ever before: some 1.8 billion people are between ages 10 and 24 and most live in developing countries, often comprising a huge proportion of the population. As such, the impact of collaborative efforts of young people on the society cannot be underestimated.

Lighthouse Global Health Initiative is a youth-led non-governmental organisation born out of love and passion to contribute to making a better society. This is totally captured in the mission statement, which is to enlighten, envision and empower vulnerable populations to lead healthy and productive lives. The organisation’s outreach has benefited many hard-to-reach communities in Nigeria.

The first ever project of LGHI was a ‘walk for diabetes’ in collaboration with Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Ile-Ife chapter, Osun state. Just a group of fresh undergraduate mobilised by the team lead andvisioner Adenipekun Adebisi. These young minds brought their strength and agility to raise awareness and also educate people, alongside other adults through Ile-Ife metropolis, about diabetes.

BADEWO OLUROGBA JOHN. article picThe villages in the developing nations often times lack basic health facilities, and this informed the decision of LGHI to take such services to them free of charge. The villages that have benefited from such medical outreach include Abagboro (2008) and Isoya village (2014) both in Ile-Ife. The outreach not only centred on health but also capacity building, as the rural dwellers were trained on manual handwork.

Sanitation personnel are saddled with the responsibility of keeping our environment clean, yet these ones are often neglected, having little or no access to good medical care in spite of the tremendous hazards involved in their profession. As a youth, we thought of what we could do and that gave birth to another project for the organisation: A day medical outreach for sanitation personnel tagged “Your Health First”. Over 200 participants were taught how to manage their job hazards by experts. Free medical and support care were provided thereafter by the volunteer medical team.

In November 2015, the organisation launched an online campaign against cervical cancer with the hashtag: #SAVETHECERVIX. The project goal is to improve the health and well-being of girls and women in Nigeria, through a comprehensive cervical cancer control program.

A report by the Cervical Cancer Free Coalition in 2013 stated that about 26 women die of cervical cancer daily in Nigeria. Fifty per cent of all women who die of cervical cancer worldwide live in just four countries: India, Brazil, Bangladesh and Nigeria. An estimate of 275,000 women are said to die yearly due to this cancer and 500,000 new cases are reported worldwide.

Deaths due to cervical cancer can be prevented. Girls can be vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) 16 and 18, which are the causative agents of cervical cancer. Screening, vaccination and education are proven tools to drastically reduce deaths due to this cancer.

The first phase of the #SAVETHECERVIX campaign was targeted at creating awareness about cervical cancer through social media. The thunderclap application was employed, and it was estimated that about 400,000 people were reach. As one of the 200 Women Deliver Young Leaders, the president of LGHI Adebisi Adenipekun was at the Women Deliver 4th Global conference held at Copenhagen, Denmark as a panellists on a WHO organised panel called “Young People, HPV, and Cervical Cancer”.

The second phase of the campaign is targeted at vaccinating adolescents through collaboration with relevant local and international agencies. This should kick off soon.

LGHI also joined the rest of the world to commemorate this year world health day with the theme “Beat Diabetes”.  A diabetes awareness campaign and free blood sugar test was carried out in three different states of Nigeria, reaching more than 200 participants.

LGHI is committed to giving vulnerable populations opportunity to lead healthy and productive lives through public health interventions, advocacy, research, capacity building and partnership with relevant stakeholders.

Photo credit: Close up of examination of an infant via photopin (license)
Photo credit: LGHI

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About me: I am driven to make impact in my generation, I have strong interest in public health, I intend to contribute my quota to empower people to lead healthy and productive lives.
I currently work as a Superintendent Pharmacist in a community pharmacy practice and Vice President (programs) of Lighthouse Global Health Initiative.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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