Special Olympics Nigeria through her ExxonMobil Foundation sponsored Skillz for Life initiative celebrated the 2019 World Malaria Day in Ibadan the Oyo state capital on the 11th of May 2019 at the Home School for Handicapped, Ijokodo, Ibadan.
The event themed “Zero Malaria Starts with Me”, witnessed a series of activities such as the Family health forum (FHF), where Health Talks on Malaria and HIV with demonstrations, Voluntary Counselling and Testing on Malaria and HIV, distribution of mosquito nets and a Unified soccer tournament.
In an opening remarks by the Project Coordinator, Special Olympics Nigeria Skillz for Life Programme, Sylvester Oboh, stated that, despite the availability of a cure for malaria, it has remained a killer disease across the country. Hence, the need for a continued awareness creation and provision of necessary support to communities prone to malaria especially for people with intellectual disabilities. “We also express our profound gratitude to our partners like ExxonMobil for their support, we have achieved a lot over the years in helping parents of children with special needs” he added.
Sylvester also noted that, the delay in this year’s celebration was to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities PWID’s in the state’s education system had the chance to participate in the celebration following the Easter holidays.
The event also recorded a huge turn out with over 350 People with Intellectual Disabilities and their family members from all over Ibadan and its surrounding environs in attendance. Also, in attendance were community members from around the Ijokodo community who were truly amazed at the great work Special Olympics Nigeria is doing with PWIDs in the state.
Also addressing guests at the event on malaria infection, causes, prevention and treatment was Olusegun Ralph of Royal Heritage Health Foundation, who stated that, Malaria infection is transmitted when bitten by a female anopheles mosquito. He also admonished participants to always sleep under insecticide treated nets and to always keep their environment clean and free from stagnated water as it is the only way to prevent malaria infection.
Olusegun also advised that malaria treatment should only be sought from qualified medical professionals and never treat malaria with traditional herbs.
Highlight from the event was the unified soccer match between “Team Doctor” and “Team Malaria”. The match ended in favour of “Team Doctor” who defeated “Team Malaria by Five goals to four on penalties after playing a 3 – 3 draw during regular time. Free malaria and HIV testing was conducted for attendees by the medical staff of Royal Heritage Health Foundation and those who test positive to malaria were given anti malaria drugs. Insecticide treated nets was also distributed to all present.
The Special Olympics Skillz for Life initiative has made significant impact within Africa and intends to continue in educating PWIDs on malaria, HIV prevention methods, treatments through collaborations with platforms like the Grassroot Soccer (GRS) South Africa by driving narratives that challenges the negative stereotypical beliefs towards acceptance and inclusion of PWIDs within the society.
The Skills for Life Initiative has been implemented in four geopolitical regions in Nigeria such as the South-West, South-East, South-South and North-Central with over 8,000 Persons with intellectual disabilities participating and graduating from the programme.