Making a Difference Through Public Health

by Blessed Egbuchulam
Environmental Sciences .

My passion for Public Health anchors on the fact that it deals with the prevention of diseases, promoting of health and prolonging of life. It allows one to reach the unreached, taking preventive medicine to the all, thereby helping them live healthy.

During my one year compulsory National Service in Ogun State, Nigeria, I carried out WASH programs in primary and secondary schools; sensitizing them on proper Handwashing techniques and hygiene to commemorate the global handwashing day in the year 2017. This was the beginning of my impact in the community. It launched me to other impacts I have made in the field of Public Health.

While In the course of my postgraduate study at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, I was to volunteer with different Public health and Environmental Health Non-governmental Organisations such as African Cleanup Initiative(ACI), Child Health Environment and Safety Trust (CHEST), AREAi (Mission Zero Plastic project) among others. I also established a Non- Governmental Organization – Blessed Health Spring Initiative (registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria) which is committed ‘TO INSPIRING HOPE AND EMPOWERING YOUNG PEOPLE, TO LIVE A HEALTHY LIFE. In BHS we work to prevent diseases, promote health and impact the lives of adolescents and young people by creating an enabling platform where they can have access to the right health information, a safe and healthy environment while they are equipped with the capacity to discover and maximize their potentials.

Working with the African Cleanup Initiative (ACI), Nigeria, I volunteered as the State Team lead for Oyo State, Nigeria, where I led a team and volunteers of over 50 persons in implementing different environmental projects annually. I and my team carried out mobilization and sensitization exercises in vulnerable communities on the need for Environmental Sanitation as the communities suffered from flooding which was a result of poor disposal of waste. We carried out sensitization and intervention work on one of the major markets in the state that lacked proper waste disposal facilities as a result of which the traders in the market dispose of wastes generated into the canals thus blocking the drains and resulting in flooding. One of these major canals was cleared of wastes and the problem of flooding was stopped. This the whole market community was grateful for.

Working with CHEST as an intern, I organised an awareness program for children and teenagers on Body Hygiene, during which they were thought the techniques involved in handwashing and the need to wash their hands after different activities. We carried out training and intervention programs on health and safety among school teachers. We also took the children on Eco-tour this was to enlighten them on eco and wildlife conservation.

My passion to see a safe environment, free of plastic wastes made me volunteer with AREAi on their project to achieve zero plastic in Nigeria. As a Community Recycling Champion, I volunteer as the Assistant Team Lead for Oyo State, Nigeria and together with the coordinator, we lead a team of volunteers in sensitizing members of the communities on plastic wastes and their harmful effects on the environment. We encourage the recycling of plastics and we lead the way by collecting the plastics for recycling.

Being the Team Lead and founder of Blessed Health Spring Initiative, I have been able to design, plan and carry out public health programs among young people in schools and communities. One of the challenges of young people(especially adolescents) that I addressed was the issue of teenage pregnancy. Which is majorly a result of poverty or as a result lack of proper information. Carrying out a key informant interview in one of the communities- Kube Atenda, we discovered that most of the teenagers saw teenage pregnancy as an achievement and while some were not prepared for it, they were involved in premarital sex. Based on this, we carried out an awareness campaign on teenage pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections and so far we’ve been able to impact the lives of over 700 adolescents(in and out of school adolescents). During the campaign, they were sensitized on the disadvantages of teenage pregnancy, the need to be educated and they were also taught Life planning skills. Many of the unanswered questions in the heart of these adolescents were answered and they were counselled and followed up for a month.

My goal to reach as many adolescents as possible made me open social media accounts for the organization on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram where we constantly, sensitize young people, counsel and encourage them in making informed life choices. Some of my works can are on the website

Similarly, During the Coronavirus Pandemic, I organized a team of passionate young men and women, still on the platform of BHS to carry out sensitization programs on the impacts of Covid-19 and how to prevent the spread in the community in 2020. We carried out an intervention program where we sourced for and distributed palliatives to 40 indigent families in the Agbamu Community as many of them could barely feed during the lockdown as some lost their jobs and couldn’t afford the price of things in the market. They were also given nose masks and sensitised on the news for frequent handwashing, wearing the face masks and maintaining social distance. More so, during the pandemic in 2020, I volunteered as a student during the decontamination exercise in the state (Oyo State) against COVID-19. Being an Environmental Health Student of Public Health, I volunteered to be part of the exercise which involved decontamination of the state Secretariat and its environs.

My impacts didn’t end with the above. With the continuation of the online activities and webinars to reach adolescents and young people on the 28th of May 2021 which was the World Menstrual Hygiene Day, I and my team members to carry out Menstrual Health and Hygiene awareness campaign tagged – ‘Healthy Period’, among female students in Agbamu Community High School, Sanyo, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. During this awareness campaign, we were able to distribute free pads to 300 adolescent girls in the school and sensitize them on menstrual hygiene.

Truly, I can say that choosing the profession of Public Health has opened me up to different opportunities to solve human and environmental problems.