During the #RUFC15 Summer Camp, USC students Kristin Dessie and Asia Dean undertook an evaluation of the public health curriculum developed and delivered by USC MPH students and partners from Makerere University.
Questionnaires were administered to a group of students before and after participating in health education lessons. The two questionnaires served a dual purpose: 1) Since there is a lack of health data among youth in Mpigi, the questionnaires served as a needs assessment to determine baseline health knowledge and health beliefs. 2) The post education questionnaire served as an evaluation of the effectiveness and appropriateness of the curriculum as we can use results to assess changes in health knowledge.
Data was collected via electronic questionnaires administered by collaborating students from Makerere University. Makerere students translated questions when necessary. Responses from 27 students before and 25 students after health education classes were successfully collected. Ethics approval was obtained for the administration of these questionnaires.
Key recommendations resulting from the study included:
Key findings are described below.
The majority of respondents correctly identified the modes of HIV/AIDs transmission, sexual contact, mother-to-fetus, and blood transmission, both pre and post health education lessons. Improvements were made in identifying incorrect modes of transmission such as hugging, kissing, and sharing toilets or food after health education lessons. This is helpful in reducing the stigma of HIV within a community, and shows a better understanding from the students in how to successfully protect themselves from the disease.
When asked if students believed HIV was a prevalent health issue in Mpigi a majority of students responded “I don’t know.” This indicates a need for more information being communicated to students to better understand potential risk.
The students indicated a need for more dialogue about this issue. 84% of respondents believed that more open discussion would reduce stigma around HIV/AIDS and 96% of respondents believed discussion around avoiding peer pressure and risky behavior in school was very important.
Informal discussions with students were helpful in assessing gaps in health knowledge as well. Students wanted to know more about sexual health, including the prevention of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy. Students had expressed several misconceptions surrounding condoms, including a belief that the use of condoms actually causes disease, rather than helping to prevent the spread of disease.
Tobacco & Alcohol
The majority of respondents believed that both tobacco and alcohol use was common in Mpigi. Specifically, students believed males 18 and older were the most common users of tobacco and alcohol. When asked if Mpigi residents understood the health risks associated with tobacco and excessive alcohol use respondents indicated almost equal parts yes and no. When asked what commonly occurs after excessive alcohol consumption in Mpigi students identified interpersonal violence as the most common outcome, followed by accident or injury and drunk driving.
The majority of students understood tobacco smoke negatively impacts both the smoker and those exposed to second hand smoke. Additionally, the majority of students indicated secondhand smoke exposure is common in Mpigi.
The majority of students correctly defined mental illness as a “disturbance in brain function” both pre and post health education classes. Misconceptions were almost eliminated entirely after classes with only one student describing mental illness as “a curse.”
92% of students understood wood burning cookstoves pose a risk to health, and the majority were able to identify common health outcomes from exposure. 84% indicated Mpigi residents would be open to using cleaner stoves if they were available.
Read Kristin Dessie's complete report here.
Ray Wipfli, RUFC founder, shares his thoughts.