The outreach kicked off in earnest at 10:00 am. The chairs and tables for the various stations were set up in the White House basement. There were seven different stations in all:
- The registration station, where new arrivals went to write their names down and get a slip on which their test results would be written,
- The blood pressure station,
- The body-mass-index checking station,
- The malaria test station,
- The HIV test station,
- The Hepatitis test station, and finally,
- The sex education station.
After registration, new arrivals would typically move to the station right next to the registration station and check their BMI. Most students were either in the underweight or normal weight category. While some students were surprised to find that they were underweight, many seem to have expected it.
The OAU chapter of Medical Students For Choice was in charge of the sex education station. Here, they showed the attendees images and visual aids detailing the various available types of contraception. Many were shocked to discover that there were even other options aside from the ones they knew. There was also a visual demonstration of how to insert an intrauterine device and a condom. After these, the students were given free contraceptives and a keychain as a souvenir.
The malaria test station was a hub of activities as there were quite a number of students either waiting to take the test or waiting around for their result. The malaria test station was a major draw for the students, probably because, as an attendee put it, it was the “major thing that could make one visit the school’s health centre.” Many of the students claimed they were sure they had malaria because they had been bitten so frequently by mosquitoes, but as it turned out, a good number of them didn’t have it. These students were, however, advised to try as much as possible to de-stress. Free mosquito nets were distributed to those who said they didn’t have one at the end of the outreach.
The HIV test station close to the malaria test station saw a lot of activity as well. Over on the other side, students had their blood pressure checked at the BP station with the two sphygmomanometers. Those with slightly elevated blood pressure were advised to relax better and eat healthily.
I was a tad intrigued to see the sizeable queue in front of the hepatitis screening station. I expected to see only a few people, seeing as hepatitis isn’t as common as high blood pressure or malaria or HIV, but evidently, I was mistaken. There were just as many people milling around the hepatitis screening station as there were at the BP station. The test was explained not to be a definitive investigation to determine whether a person does have the illness or not, being a rapid test. However, if the test result came out positive, the recommendation was that the person gets checked at the health centre. However, he did not record any positive in all the tests carried out.
All in all, the students seemed to appreciate the free tests while also enjoying themselves. From station to station, it was all fun getting educated and learning about the state of their health.