University of Rwanda-One Health Students Club in response Community public health problems

Friday, 21 August 2015 - 7:26am
OHCEA Network Country: 

By Mapendo MINDJE[1]

University of Rwanda One Health Students Club (UR-OHSC) is a multidisciplinary team of undergraduate students and alumni of the University of Rwanda. This club unites studentsself-motivated students and Alumni from the college of Agriculture, Animal science and Veterinary Medicine, College of Science and Technology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences and College of Business and Economics.

In its programs of helping communities solve health problems, UR-OHSC outreaches communities after having knowledge of how they live at a daily basis, and thengenerates ideas on how to improve some of the health burdens that affect these communities. Through trainings during our outreach programs, the club members use various strategies of education to help the communities understand their roles in trying to improve their health and become ambassadors of health in nearby unreached communities. These activities are all supported by One Health Central and Eastern Africa (OHCEA) Rwanda country office under the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threat Program.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAMS

TO DATE

1. Rabies campaign

Rabies is one of the viral zoonotic diseases transmitted via bite of a rabid Animal or bats. This disease is transmitted by dogs and other canids. Stray dogs are one among the major causes of Rabies outbreaks in communities around national parks since these interact with wildlife and carry the virus into human households. In the Eastern Province of Rwanda, Nyagatare district boarders with the Akagera National Park; communities from Rwimiyaga, Tabagwe, Karangazi, Musheri and Nyagatare sector are in close contact with this park. These sectors are in close proximity with this park. It is therefore more possible for these communities to face cases of not only Rabies but also other diseases of Public Health importance arising from this interaction. University of Rwanda-One health Students Club took first place to teach and create awareness in these communities that this kind of interaction can lead to disease outbreaks most of which whose case fatality rate is close to 100% including Rabies

2. Hygiene and malnutrition campaign

Hygiene is a driver to better health. Most diseases are outcome of various human behaviors that are practiced by people living in areas very close to one another.These are behaviors like not washing hands after coming from toilets, eating with dirty hands, defecating in open areas accessible by everyone, not disposing garbage in appropriate places, drinking poor or undercooked food stuff and other related behaviors practiced by Human. Another driver to poor health is malnutrition. Other conditions that may result into disease outbreaks as result of poor Hygiene are natural disasters and civil unrest forcing people into camps where there are facilities to use especially in case of refugee camps.

When such conditions arise, it is obvious that disease causing agents will be very strong since the human immune system would have been compromised.

The objectives of this campaign were to increase community awareness about how to save their lives through better health practices, to teach them about balanced diet to prevent malnutrition among children bellow 5 years of age. Through drama as a media of passing on the message by the students, people were made to understand better how to put in practice the lessons learnt on that day.

The Hygiene and Malnutrition campaign were conducted in two sectors of Nyagatare District namely Nyagatare sector (Ryabega cell) and Rwempasha sector (Rwempasha cell) in the eastern province of Rwanda. These are pastoral communities living in refugee camps since they were forced from Tanzania in 2015. Camps are areas that have been documented to have most cases of communicable as well as diseases of poor of Hygiene.

3. Outcomes of the outreach

In both visited sectors, brochures were written in Kinyarwanda as the local language and distributed.

These materials included lessons on practices that communities should avoid tom prevent diseases contaminations and also pictures illustrating the behaviors that are done at daily basis which can be source of diseases. Furthermore, families were given materials for hygiene including soap sticks and Toilet papers to help them implementing what they learnt from the club members.

4. Strategies to increase the club awareness

UR-OHSC

Apart from the different platforms used by this club to increase its awareness among communities and other institutions, the club participates in various events organized at the country level and through its drama, transfers One health information to communities present during these events.

[1]UR-OHSC Alumnus, UR-CAVM-Wildlife and Aquatic Resources Management.