In a bid to advance health education as well as awareness about sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis as well as other health and social conditions affecting young people in higher education, the Student Services Department (SSD) at the University of Zululand (UNIZULU) hosted the First Things First campaign.
Held on Monday, 20 February 2017, and Tuesday, 21 February, the campaign; which was held at the KwaDlangezwa and Richard’s Bay was organised by a task team from all sections of the University under the SSD banner. The task team collaborated with colleagues from Drama in AIDS Education (DramAidE); an organisation constituted as an outreach program of UNIZULU to facilitate critical awareness and transfer skills among under-resourced communities of KwaZulu-Natal.
The First Things First campaign was held at the KwaDlangezwa and Richards Bay campuses and saw the roll-out of various wellness services which culminated in the national launch of the Dialogue on Gender Based Violence that took place on Friday, 24 February 2017, at the KwaDlangezwa Campus. High profile guests such as Mduduzi Manana, Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, and Professor Xoliswa Mtose, UNIZULU Vice-Chancellor attended the dialogue.
The First Things First campaign was designed by the Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS Programme (HEAIDS) to advance health education and awareness about HIV/ AIDS, STIs, TB and other related health and social conditions affecting the progress of young people in all South African Higher Education institutions. The campaign aims to prevent new infections and to ensure that those who are infected and affected by the aforementioned conditions receive proper treatment and support as a matter of national priority. In the process, students and staff in are encouraged to get tested and to know their HIV statuses.
HEAIDS, AidsWise, DramAidE, the King Cetshwayo District Health Department, the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD), Broad Reach, Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) as well as Van Schaik Bookstore sponsored and partnered on the event.
“The week from the 20th to the 24th of March stood out as a milestone in the history of the University of Zululand,” said Sibusiso Mchunu, the Dean of Students at the University of Zululand. “The Deputy Minister (of Higher Education and Training) made it clear that it was the first successful launch of the Dialogue on Gender Based Violence in the country in a higher education institution. It also set a high benchmark for those institutions,” said Mchunu.
He added, “Besides the strong support and participation by students, the collaboration by different stakeholders ensured that it (the campaign) became the success that it was. The Student Services Department initiated and led an outstanding programme, a view that is shared by guests from other institutions as well as the Department of Education and Training. The programme would however have not been that much of a success without the contribution of other stakeholders such as the Communications and Marketing Department, Protective Services Department, Peer Helpers and Physical Planning and Works. The contribution by colleagues from those departments is worth mentioning,” he said.