By Clemence Tashaya
EENHANA – Learners here have enthusiastically welcomed the Rural Health Integrated Network (RHIN) which has been launched here to spearhead four micro projects such as school health, data compilation, clinical and marketing.
The launch, the first of its first kind in Namibia will see mostly schools in the region benefiting from this initiative. Initiated some two years ago and funded by the Geneva Global Fund, the rural integrated network committee in Ohangwena region is planning to roll out its activities to all schools in the region. A Grade 10 learner at Eenhana Secondary School, Abiatal Hailulu, who was present with other learners and teachers from the school, could not hide his joy on the launch of the RHIN programme. She explains to Youth Corner that she will take the message seriously and teach fellow community members and other learners about hygiene, sanitation, the importance of nutrition and [danger] of teenage pregnancy at her school. “This RHIN programme is a welcome move to us as learners. We are going to introduce specific health clubs in our schools so that we cannot become statistics of these reported cases in our region. We shall make sure that we work with our Principals and Life Skills teachers in these projects,” he says.
Tuwilika Muma, an eleventh grader at the Haimbili Haufiku Senior Secondary School says she was very much happy to be attending the launch with her teachers.
“I will make sure that l inform my friends at school. We have been empowered and learnt a lot from this launch here and hope to inform even our parents about cleanliness and environment,” she said
Ohangwena region is one of the poorest and least developed regions in the country and has serious health challenges mainly poor sanitations, very limited access to potable water, high teenage pregnancy rate, and considerable levels of malnutrition and high burden of TB/HIV. Since 2013, the RHIN team has embarked on a region-wide educational campaign and has engaged directly with schools and communities in rural Okongo, Eenhana and Engela constituencies.
The Ohangwena Education Director, Sanet Steenkamp, announced on the ocassion that from 2009 to 2013, out of 125, 896 people who visited health facilities, about 761 died of diarrhoea. 48 died at Eenhana District hospital, 80 at Okongo and 89 at Engela hospital and were all under the age of five. “Apart from that from 2009 to 2013, about 320 people died from malnutrition and 153 were children under the age of 5 years. On teenage pregnancy in Ohangwena region, in 2009 about 1 690 teenage pregnancy were recorded, 2010, about 1 680, 2011 about 1 7 54 cases. In 2012, it was 1 930 while in 2013, 1 792 cases were recorded despite sex and reproductive and health education campaigns in the region,” she explained
The RHIN launch was attended by various school principals, Life Science teachers, officials from the Ministry of Education, learners and members of the community.