By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis
In line with the vision to raise a generation of youths that are morally upright and God-fearing, no fewer than 400 students from 17 secondary schools in Lagos State were invited for the 2013 edition of the Roses Ministry Youth Seminar, held at the conference hall of National Population Commission, Surulere, Lagos, on October 23.
Tagged ‘Challenges of Growing Up,’ the one-day seminar also featured the topic, ‘Present Health and Socio-economic Challenges that Prepare Youth for the Future’ as well as quiz contest, sex education, and praise and worship.
In attendance were Professor (Mrs.) Cecilia Igwilo of the Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos, who was the guest speaker; Pharm. Ernest Okafor, managing director of Nemitt Pharma Limited; Apostle Alex Bamgbola, deputy chairman, Rose Ministry’s Board of Trustees, among others.
Addressing students at the event, Prof. Igwilo reminded them that the vision of the future places greater demands on them, especially those preparing for careers in medicine and nursing, adding that they would be expected to be skilled in the assessment of their patients’ health in the context of the community and family as they understand the biological basis of disease and therapeutic options.
The don also commented on the state of the Nigerian health sector, stressing that despite noticeable improvements, several challenges still needed attention.
“Challenges such as 1 billion people lacking access to health care systems, 36 million deaths each year caused by non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases etc; over 7.5million children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition and mostly preventable diseases each year,” she said.
The professor also disclosed that health professionals were worried about the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases. Citing UNAIDS reports, she said that as at 2008, an estimated 33.4million people were living with HIV, 2.7 million were with new infections and 2 million peopledied from the disease.Tuberculosis was also reported to kill 1.7million people each year with 9.4million new cases a year. Also, about1.6million people still die from Pneumococcal diseases every year, making it a number one vaccine-preventable cause of death worldwide.
Other worrisome cases, she noted, include malaria, which causes some 225million acute illnesses and over 780,000 deaths annually; and miseasles, which killed about164,000 people(mostly children under five) in 2008, even though effective immunisation costs less than 1 dollar and has been available for more than 40 year.
She further explained that malaria had recently been shown to be a major constraint to economic development. “Malaria also hampers children’s schooling and social development through both absenteeism and permanent neurological and other damage associated with severe episodes of the disease,” declared, adding that “the simple presence of malaria in a community or country also hampers individual and national prosperity due to its influence on social and economic decisions. The risk of contracting malaria in endemic areas can deter investment can affect individual and household decision-making.”
On her part, Mrs Chineze Ajoku, head of Roses Ministry youth department, told Pharmanews that the seminar had become an annual affair where guest speakers were invited to address students selected from various schools in Lagos as their own contribution to raising future godly leaders for the country.
“For instance in 2009, we brought in professionals from Mass Medical Mission (MMM), a not-for-profit and non-governmental organisation to screen young female undergraduates on cervical and breast cancers in University of Lagos (UNILAG) for free,” she recalled. “In 2010, we brought in doctors and focused on sexually transmitted diseases. By 2011, we invited secondary school students and aired a video clip on abortion and its inherent danger which was facilitated through the aid of MMM again.”
In addition, the Roses Ministry head noted that the ministry thought of doing something different from the previous ones in 2012 which perhaps explains why it decided to focus on issues like drug abuse, peer pressure, alcohol and dating for this year’s edition, since such issues constitute primary areas of challenge for today’s youngsters.
While appreciating sponsors of the event – Nestle, Seven-Up Bottling Company, Rozec Pharmacy, May & Baker, GSK, Dufil Prima Foods, as well as individuals who donated cash and gifts, Ajoku remarked that there was still room for improvement and called for further participation of corporate bodies to help shape Nigeria’s future leaders.
For the results of the quiz contest between participating schools, Bedrock College emerged first, while Aquinas College and Rainbow College occupied the second and third positions respectively. To reward their efforts, three trophies were given to the winners, while certificates of participation were issued out to all the 17 participating schools.