ACCESS to health information and health services is essential in the promotion of health and wellness. One can obtain health information by actively taking deliberate steps to solicit for information from health workers and medical articles.
Information can also accessed through exposure to health messages on social media, radio, print and electronic media and unsolicited for health education sessions.
It is undisputable that some people only seek health information when they are faced with health problems.
Non-availability of dedicated health information desks and comprehensive health information in some health facilities has contributed to the observed poor health information seeking behaviour among the general public.
However, the Ministry of Health has embarked on a robust move to reverse the situation. The Ministry is working to increase health literacy levels among the citizenry to promote health and prevent diseases; in other word to promote health and wellness.
According to Ministry of Health Assistant Director Adolescent Health Dr. Matilda Simpungwe, young people including those learning institutions lack information on health hence the move by the ministry to establish Outreach Health Service programmes in learning institutions.
Dr. Simpungwe explains that Outreach Health Services provided by public health teams in designated community establishments, enhance community accessibility and utilisation of health services ranging from health education, medical screening, treatment and referral of patients requiring specialized health care.
She says the ministry will during the National Health Week, which will run from today 6 to 11 May 2019 launch the programme.
“During the National Health Week focusing on young people, will be the launch of integrated outreach services to tertiary institutions initiative. Students who are in dire need of health information, counselling and services are too busy or not motivated to do so owing to numerous inhibiting factors which include long distances to health facilities compounded by lack of privacy and perceived dawdling
services,” Dr. Simpungwe said
The initiative which will be a national programme, envisions provision of a range of health services by health district health office teams and partners on a monthly basis to students in all colleges and universities across the country to guarantee healthy and productive learners.
District health offices will form teams with partners to provide HIV testing and Ant- retro-viral Treatment (ART), voluntarily medical male circumcision (VMMC), family planning, counselling of students afflicted by alcohol and drug addiction, mental health problems (depression and suicidal tendencies) and screening for non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and sexually transmitted infections.
Addressing health problems affecting adolescents and young people goes
beyond the health sector as most of the contributing factors to risky
behavior stem from social and economic factors that should be tackled in a concerted manner.
Parents, whose responsibility it is to raise children to uphold morals and values are young people’s primary or principle counselors. In as
much as young people can be influenced by their peers in terms of what they wear, how they speak or activities they engage in, parents and
guardians should impart values and morals in their children and set limits and boundaries required for good parenting.
Parents should also talk to their children about puberty and sexuality so that they are forearmed with information to help them identify problems like inappropriate touching or behavior by peers or grownups and what to do to stay out of trouble. Other community members can only build on the foundation laid by parents and should not be expected to take up the parenting role.
Civic and traditional leaders, the local authority and the community at large should endevour to enforce laws that protect young people from accessing alcohol and drugs, transactional and commercial sex, illicit trading, engaging in political violence or riots and child labour.
Religious organisations and the corporate community should complement government in identifying and supporting vulnerable young people to further their education, meet their daily essentials and to become economically empowered through vocational trainings.
The health sector will continue providing health information to young people for informed decision making on behavior that impacts their health.
During the National Health Week, adolescents and young people will not be left behind. Unlike the prevailing scenario in most health facilities, young people will not compete for services with grownups but will enjoy the privacy and undivided attention from dedicated and trained adolescent health service providers.
Adolescents will access tailored services, especially health information (key messages) on diseases of public health concern and guidance on which health facilities in their local communities they can access health services from.
Information will be provided on HIV, STI, mental health, male circumcision, sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, alcohol anddrug abuse, comprehensive sexuality education for in- and out-of school adolescents as well as information on available toll free helplines.
General counseling, family planning, HIV testing and voluntary male circumcision services will be available for young people to access at the Olympic Youth Development Centre and other parts of the country the whole week.
As I conclude, I would like to urge youths take part in the National Health Week and appreciate one or two things, if not all.
Bye until next week

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