‘Wherever you are, protect yourself against mosquitoes and other vectors. Their small bites are big threats.’ This was the message that ran through the 2014 World Health Day observance organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos in collaboration with the United Nations of Youth Network Nigeria (UNOY).
The observance which started with an introductory video titled, ‘World Health Day 2014 – Small bite, big threat’, featured the screening of short animated video documentary, and was attended by over 150 participants which included secondary school students, representatives of Non-governmental Organisations (NGO) and the media.
In his message on the occasion, the United Nations Secretary. General, Ban Ki-moon, observed that every year more than one million people died from diseases carried by mosquitoes, flies, ticks and other insects.
“They present a risk in all regions, including countries where the threat had formerly been eradicated, but the most affected are the world’s poorest people, especially those who live in remote rural communities far from health services or in urban shanty towns,” he explained, “Everyone has a role to play in the fight against vector-borne diseases – international organizations, governments, the private sector, civil society, community groups and individuals. “
In her opening remarks, the Senior Public Information Officer at UNIC, Envera Selimovic, implored the student-audience to be the change agents in their schools and communities by playing active roles in the cleaning of their environments and helping in the dissemination of life-saving information on how to prevent malaria and other vector borne diseases.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Small bite, big threats’, the Keynote speaker, a Public Health Specialist, Dr Olubunmi Omoseyindemi, called for the involvement of communities in the campaign against vector borne diseases. He added that when such a campaign was being designed, the culture of the people should be considered.
‘Nigerian youths have an important role to play in the campaign to prevent vector-borne diseases,‘ President of UNOY, Prince Goodluck Obi, said in his remarks. He urged youths to be the vanguard of good sanitation and healthy living.
Contributing to the discussion, the National Surveillance Officer of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Irene Isibor, urged the students and other participants to keep their environments clean and to ensure at all times, that no water stagnated around their homes. ‘Stagnant water in used tyres, bushes,’ according to her, ‘are breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects.’
The event was also attended by a representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Mr William Wu Shigin.