17 November 2022 Volume :10 Issue :52

Taking Education to Youngsters in Rural Areas

Taking Education to Youngsters in Rural Areas
UKZN postgraduate students who provided educational outreach for high school learners.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN postgraduate students from the College of Health Sciences who are also fellows at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) visited Sibanesihle High and Ngcedomhlophe High in the Mafakatini area of the uMgungundlovu Municipality to conduct a community outreach programme.

The students involved were Ms Noluthando Mazibuko-Motau, Ms Nomusa Zondo, Ms Thando Maseko, Ms Senamile Ngema, Mr Lungelo Ntuli, Ms Nonsikelelo Ndlela, Ms Sibongiseni Masondo, Ms Bongeka Mabaso and Ms Silindile Ngubane.

The aim of the outreach project was to inform and raise awareness among learners about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB), sexually transmitted infections (STIs), the risks associated with an early sexual debut, and teenage pregnancy.

Speakers at the event were all positive about the outcome:

Ms Noluthando Mazibuko-Motau said: ‘Our programme was a huge success with about 600 students from Ncedomhlophe High and 200 from Sibanesihle High attending. My talk focused on teenage pregnancy, where I emphasised the importance of abstaining from sex and the consequences of being a teenage/adolescent mother. I also spoke to the learners about the research conducted by postgraduates at CAPRISA.

Ms Nomusa Zondo said: ‘My talk informed learners about my research at UKZN/CAPRISA, which is on understanding how biological factors affect pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) effectiveness in African women. We hope to continue with this outreach programme, as it is essential to share our research findings and continually educate the public about scientific advances in diseases that directly affect them.’

Mr Lungelo Ntulispoke to scholars about Human Papillomavirus(HPV) infection - a common STI among young adolescent girls - and HPV prevention in young boys and girls.

Ms Thando Maseko said, ‘The overlap and the devastating effect of TB and the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa represents one of the most significant public health challenges. My talk aimed to inform the learners about TB, cellular immune responses in TB/HIV co-infection and the importance of adhering to treatment.’

Ms Senamile Ngema said: ‘As someone interested in TB, drug-resistant TB and treatment, my talk focused on the knowledge of the disease and crucial steps one needs to take if/when symptomatic and exposed, and the importance of TB treatment completion. I think it is about time that the scientific community goes out to various communities to share the knowledge they have generated and gained so that the next generation has a better understanding of health issues such as HIV and TB.’

Ms Sibongiseni Masondo told young girls about behavioural factors contributing to HIV and the risks that intravaginal products may have on genital inflammation. ‘Girls must know the risks of douching and intravaginal products because of the harm they pose to genital health.’

Ms Nonsikelelo Ndlela covered information regarding the common causes and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis (BV). ‘I believe that awareness about BV is very critical, considering that it increases the risk of HIV acquisition in young women.’

The students were accompanied by Mr Patrick Mdletshe, CAPRISA’s Head of the Community Programme. ‘CAPRISA remains committed to fighting HIV/AIDS, TB and STIs in communities and seeks to empower young women to protect themselves against HIV infections. The School-based programme, led by the fellows, was a robust, friendly dialogue about pertinent issues as well as encouraging learners to work hard in school,’ said Mdletshe.

‘Progress in HIV prevention is only possible when there are platforms for dialogue like this to facilitate learners’ knowledge in making informed decisions,’ said Sibanesihle Principal, Mr A Ngobese.

Words: Noluthando Mazibuko-Motau and Thando Maseko

Photograph: Lwazikazi Sibisi

author : .
author email : .