06 May 2021 Volume :9 Issue :14

UKZN Hosts Health and Wellness Campaign

UKZN Hosts Health and Wellness Campaign
Panellists from the webinar clockwise from left: Mr Buhle Dludla, Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, Dr Vincent Zishiri, Mr Vijesh Samjhawan and Ms Jabu Hlophe.

UKZN’s HIV and AIDS Programme recently hosted a webinar, titled: The Greatest Wealth is Health.

Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, Scientific Director for the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) at the University and the facilitator of the event, highlighted the programme’s focus on promoting a healthy lifestyle among students.

He said: ‘The programme has been active in providing services for students and staff as well as advocating for mental health issues, gender based-violence (GBV), and HIV and AIDS. It has also been in the front line providing screening services and contact tracing for COVID-19.’

Dr Vincent Zishiri, Technical Executive Manager at Higher Health and the keynote speaker, commented on the challenges of youth epidemics and listed the eight priority areas for Higher Health as: HIV and TB, sexual reproductive health and contraception, GBV, mental health, LGBTQI+, alcohol and drug abuse, disability and COVID-19.

He examined the Post School Education and Training (PSET) sector’s response to COVID-19 which included setting up scientific task teams; developing guidelines and protocols; deploying screening volunteers; training Higher Education management, student affairs and frontline staff to manage the response; rapidly developing the HealthCheck screening tool and strengthening psychosocial support services through a 24-hour toll-free helpline.

Listing some of the guidelines and protocols to manage COVID-19, Zishiri said that around 50 000 staff and students within the PSET sector have been trained and capacitated. He noted that more than 10 million screening episodes have been conducted on HealthCheck and focused on the importance of a national psychosocial support programme due to heightened anxiety and stigma caused by the pandemic.

Reviewing the national vaccination programme and its three-phrase approach which aims to vaccinate 67% of the population. Zishiri explained that the second phase of vaccinations covers a larger chunk of the PSET sector which plans to focus on essential workers such as lecturers, student support services staff, campus security, residence wardens, cleaners, people living in congregant settings like residences and people 18 years or over living with comorbidities.

In closing Zishiri noted the important role Higher Health plays in bringing together the Departments of Health and Higher Education and Training. He encouraged people to wear a mask, wash their hands and keep their distance and to practice care, compassion and community during the pandemic.

Ms Jabu Hlophe an Occupational Health Nurse on the Westville campus listed the health clinics available on each of the University’s five campuses and urged staff and students to contact them on their toll-free number 0800 80 0018.

Hlophe noted that UKZN’s Self-screening App that is used before entrance to the University is granted records low risk (green) where one gains entrance to the campus with a mask, medium risk (amber) where one is referred to the campus health clinic, and high risk (red) where access is denied.

She highlighted the steps taken for individuals who screen as a high risk which include having an occupational nurse contact one, conducting a repeat screening and if confirmed at high risk, testing for COVID-19 at UKZN’s on-site laboratory, being referred to a General Practitioner or the KZN Department of Health Flu Clinic, and self-quarantining until one’s test results are made available.

Hlophe also listed the self-isolating measures required of those who test positive or are asymptomatic but may be infected with COVID-19 as staying in one’s room and away from others; knowing which emergency number to call if symptoms worsen; avoiding communal spaces and sharing household items; frequently washing one’s hands with soap; using 70% alcohol sanitisers; wearing a mask and following social distancing protocols; observing cough and hand etiquette; and frequently sanitising all touched surfaces.

Other speakers of the event included Mr Buhle Dludla, Clinical Nurse Practitioner at Health Systems Trust and Mr Vijesh SamjhawanUKZN alumnus who focused on ways to provide support to people faced with issues related to positive living.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Image: Supplied

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