By Chris Onuoha

In a carnival-like style, the Jars Group, organisers of the Lagos Street-walk Health Awareness Campaign led a horde of participants, singing, dancing and cheering the crowd as they march all the way to Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa in Ikeja to draw home the need for people to be healthy at all time.

Wednesday May 11, 2022 was it as the group with some other public health workers created the awareness through public sensitization exercise that started from Allen Avenue Roundabout in Ikeja down to the Lagos State House of Assembly and ending at the JJT Park, Alausa. Other features are dancing competition, talks on trauma and building resilience among other things.

The campaign being the first in the series is in commemoration of Mental Health Awareness Month 2022 drawn by Jars Group, with theme: “Trauma Care is Community Care.” It attracted the much needed attention as people stopped by, asked questions and got information about what and how trauma can be mitigated including measures to refrain from domestic related crises.

The group marched with a displayed banner and placards bearing various signs such as “Stop Child Negligence”, “Hurting People Hurt Other People”, “Domestic Abuse is A Human Rights Violation”, “Don’t Hide Trauma”, End Domestic Violence”, End Childhood Trauma”, Say No To Domestic Abuse” among others.

According to one of the participants, a civil servant, (name withheld), he said; “It is a very good awareness drive. Often times, people don’t realise the implications of not checking their health status or even reveal to an expert, the kind of trauma they are passing through in their lives. With a sensitisation campaign like this, one would be able to know how to remain safe.”

Another said, “Most ailments like high blood pressure and cardiac attack can start slowly and be blown without one knowing, but through this awareness walk, it has revealed to us things we should know and how to go about it.

For Mrs. Adebisi Giwa, a civil servant at Lagos Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, she mentioned that the most worrisome is the rate at which child abuse is getting high. She noted that many parents have resulted in abusing their wards in many ways, with some complaining of economic hardship which is not suppose to be so, while some outrightly ignore their domestic responsibilities. She also urged parents to pay much attention to their children especially the underage in schools, adding that the news about child rape and indecent bahaviours among underage children are as a result of parental negligence.

However, the convener of the programme, Prof Akindotun Merino in her speech said; “We are here today to educate and sensitise Nigerians about the dangers of keeping quiet over trauma related issues and domestic abuse. Abusing a child in a way that is not acceptable to the society is a type of domestic violence including emotional abuse.

We are highlighting all these today so that people should know that they are public health issues. We must draw awareness to it. That is why we are here today. We are moving straight to the Governor’s office at Alausa to draw more attention from the legislative point of view,” Merino said.

Speaking further, she noted that the awareness drive is the first-ever Community Trauma Care Campaign in Nigeria, adding that it is indeed a clarion call to action.
“Awareness is important, so that when you know, you can shift a little bit.

Yelling at your children or abusing them in an unspeakable manner is part of emotional abuse. Those things hurt which you may not know as a parent. It goes a long way to trigger trauma and stigmatisation. Trauma that is not treated cannot be healed.

The first thing is to identity those signs of abuse; if you are constantly yelling, beating, despising your own child or distancing yourself in relationship, it is a sign of trauma trigger. More so, sleeplessness (insomnia), adding weight through over eating and lack of exercise, can also trigger trauma. When you are well informed, you would know how to mitigate it,” she said.

Prof Merino in the same vein urged government to intervene.

She noted that there is a need government at all level to support the campaigners through funding, for them to carry on the good work and also implement some policies that would enhance the awareness drive about knowing ones health status. She said that collaboration can also go a long way to help the NGOs and relevant bodies that are championing the health awareness drive.

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