“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears” –Rumi
For us at DRASA, we believe that solving the challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) involves engaging a core part of Nigeria’s population: our young people. Their role in actualizing improvements in public health is proven and non-negotiable if we want to successfully curb the increasing challenge of AMR.
We can all hear the clock ticking as AMR remains a silent global health threat which requires immediate and sustainable action. If not, it is estimated that AMR has the potential to cause almost 10 million deaths and cost $100 trillion in economic losses globally by 2050.
We are committed to supporting Nigeria’s National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. This is why we are awake, aware, and working hard to protect the health of Nigerians through targeted education and awareness for young people.
In 2018, we kicked off our Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) School Program. In collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) AMR Division, WHO Africa Regional Office and WHO Nigeria Country Office, we made significant progress. By 2019 we had developed 320 DRASA Youth Ambassadors, secondary school students in 10 schools in Lagos state who we educated and worked with using a customized, evidence-based curriculum. Through bi-weekly Health and Hygiene Club meetings in each of their schools, we engaged these students as innovative Youth Ambassadors, simplified the concept of AMR, made it fun, and provided practical ways for Youth Ambassadors to contribute to the interactive, hands-on lessons developed by members of our team and subject matter experts.
We found that the students were more likely to take on healthy and hygienic habits when taught in simple terms and allowed to creatively express themselves as part of the learning process. This approach also encouraged them to pass it on to their siblings, fellow students, and community members. The impact of this phase of the AMR School Program pointed to the need to further amplify awareness on antimicrobial use and the global threat of AMR – increasingly being called the “silent pandemic”. Thus, began the need to scale this project.
This quarter, we officially launched the 2nd phase of our AMR School Program. Having obtained approval from the Ministries of Education in Lagos and Osun States, our focus is to increase the number of student beneficiaries (Ambassadors) from 320 to at least 900 by scaling our Health and Hygiene Club activities from the initial 10 schools in Lagos State to 30 schools total: 20 schools in Lagos and 10 in Osun.
To effectively kickstart activities in these 30 schools, we recently recruited 15 Youth Trainers and 4 members of the Program Management Team, after a fair and rigorous process. They were onboarded and trained so they could in turn establish and manage the 30 new DRASA Health and Hygiene Clubs.
At the Lagos Onboarding Workshop which held between 27th and 28th January 2022, 10 Youth Trainers were trained by members of the Program Management Team.
The onboarding process included learning sessions on DRASA Health Trust, the previous phase of the program, the new phase, the Health and Hygiene Club activities, team building exercises, as well as a detailed run-through of the lesson plans and curriculum which they will be expected to implement in their assigned schools. In addition, we held a best practices and lessons learned session with 2 Youth Trainers from the 1st phase of the program. Both have returned to join us in this new phase and were able to share some insider tips and advice for the new Youth Trainers.
On the second day, the Youth Trainers were engaged in a role-play to assess their implementation of the curriculum and make proper recommendations on the strengths and weaknesses of each Trainer, with respect to content delivery, audience engagement, and scientific communication. They were also exposed to strategies for handling challenges that may arise in the course of engaging with youth.
“I saw it as an opportunity for career and self-improvement while impacting positively at the same time, so getting selected got me excited and eagerly anticipating.” Said Dr. Olaotan Onikosi a Youth Trainer from Lagos, expressing his fulfillment with the training sessions. “The onboarding was a wonderful team bonding experience. Everyone learned from one another. My aha moment would be learning the difference between sanitary pads and tampons, as well as how tampons are utilized (I used to think they were similar).” Olaotan, who will be engaging with DRASA Ambassadors at Stadium Senior High School in Surulere and Ayetoro Senior High School in Ebute Metta in Lagos, says he looks forward to empowering young people to not just become agents, but to be able to make health-related decisions based on relevant information rather than ignorance.
In a similar way, we planned and executed a 2-day residential Youth Trainers’ Onboarding Training in Osun state from 3rd to 4th February, 2022.
5 new Youth Trainers were trained, however the training did not just cover the lessons in the Ambassadors’ curriculum, but also how to engage with the students and make the best of this opportunity.
Commenting on the onboarding session, Adeola Abigael Akinyele, the Youth Trainer assigned to Our Ladys Girls High School and Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife, in Osun State, expressed her satisfaction with the activities. “The onboarding training was a memorable event for me. It was informative, interesting, and engaging. It gave me an insight into the aim of the project and a better understanding of my role as a Youth Trainer. I also had the privilege of meeting my wonderful colleagues and the project team members. Specifically, I learned new things about storytelling, the use of youthful language, and emotional intelligence. I am very excited and looked forward to the start of the project. Overall, I look forward to having an indelible impact on my students through this project.”