The Youth Friendly Centre (YFC) of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye in collaboration with the Directorate of Health Services has organized a 2-day Training Workshop for all students who are prospective HIV/AIDS Peer Educators on Thursday, 21st March, 2019, at the Moot Court Building of the University. The training which witnessed the attendance of dignitaries and experts in the field of health services from within and outside the University Community, was targeted at not only increasing the requisite knowledge, attitude, and skills of the Peer Educators, but also intended to widen their horizon preparatory to dissemination of health talks to the end users who in this case are their colleagues.
Declaring the workshop open, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor G. O. Olatunde who was represented at the occasion by the University Librarian, Dr. Adebambo Oduwole welcomed all to the opening session, and thanked the organisers for sustaining the mission towards achieving the vision of the Youth Friendly Centre. He, thereafter, expressed deep concern over the alarming rate of incidence of HIV/AIDS, especially, among youths in the country. According to the Vice-Chancellor, HIV/AIDS constitutes an issue of concern globally. In 2017, Nigeria had 3.1 million people living with HIV and 210,000 new cases, thereby making Nigeria the second largest HIV epidemic in the World, he added.
The Vice-Chancellor further stressed that, in Sub-Saharan Africa where Nigeria belongs, 5% of all adults within the age range of 15 – 49 years are HIV positive. He lamented that youths, University students inclusive, fall within this age range, making them most vulnerable group because of their risky sexual behaviour. He, therefore, commended the Coordinators of the Centre, Professor H. T. Benedict and the entire staff of the Directorate of Health Services for the health care rendered to students and entire University Community. Prof. Olatunde further implored the participants, who were mainly students selected from various Faculties and Colleges to serve as peer educators, to make sure they were well equipped in order to effectively discharge their roles among their colleagues.
In her remark, the Coordinator of OOU Youth Friendly Centre Professor (Mrs.) H. T. Benedict welcomed all and gave an insight into the evolution and activities of Youth Friendly Centres in Nigerian Universities, including OOU since 2012. She observed that the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) in collaboration with MTN and other bodies birthed the Centre to prevent further spread of HIV/AIDS scourge by engaging the youths meaningfully in combating the pandemic through counseling and testing in a friendly environment and non-threatening environment, through peer education strategy. This is because testing to know one’s status is a precursor to prevention and management. She therefore acknowledged the proven fact over time that the use of the Peer Educators as a strategy for addressing HIV/AIDS particularly among youths had been found to be very effective.
Speaking further, Prof. (Mrs.) Benedict equally stressed that HIV/AIDS constituted one of the global pandemic in history, which significantly necessitated the inauguration of WORLD AIDS DAY to remind the public and various governments through awareness programme including peer education that HIV had not abated. She thereafter profoundly commended the Vice-Chancellor for his unprecedented efforts and level of magnanimity towards the Centre whenever the need arises, describing him as not only youth friendly, but a visionary leader who appreciates the essence of human capital development in nation building. She further mentioned some of the University’s helmsman gestures towards the functionality and management of the Centre, which in her highlight included major repair of the floor of the Centre, netting of the entrances and window openings, and above all, the employment of a very active former Peer Educator as an administrative staff of the Centre.
The high point of the 2-day Workshop was the presentation of series of lectures by health talk experts and health officers from within and outside the University Community. These resource persons included the Heads of Departments in the OOU Directorate of Health Services, among whom were Mrs. A. A. Onakoya (Nursing), Pharm. W. O. Olakitan (Pharmacy), Mr. J. B. Folorunsho (Laboratory), while the Director of Ogun State Agency for the Control of AIDS – Ogun SACA, Dr. K. Fatugase had earlier given an opening lecture entitled: Immune System Sustenance and HIV/AIDS. The lecture which chronicled details on HIV transmission and prevention, progression from HIV to AIDS, differences between HIV and AIDS, and connection between HIV, AIDS, STIs and TB, was delivered to the audience on behalf of Dr. Fatugase by the Acting Director of Olabisi Onabanjo University Health Services, Dr. Mrs Ogunbowale.