Librarian Joint Mediated Outreach on Health and Legal Information provision in Select Communities in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

Author:Philip, Kathryn James
 
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Introduction

Health is wealth, so says the adage and this is an undisputed fact for the reason that the well being of a people can holistically add to their development generally. Local communities with little infrastructure seem to be more susceptible to less of quality information that would have bettered their lot due to low economic and literacy rate. People in local communities as found through interactions with this author, are found to dwell on superstition upon which they attribute sickness and other forms of health hazards. The situation intently underscores the need for more awareness and health literacy information, which is the thrust of this paper. This paper unfolds activities which surround what initially started as an informal health discussion to an organised health project with focus on HIV/ AIDS and legal matters. Cognisance is taken of the fact that adhering to sensitive health information such as on HIV/AIDS is sometimes a tug-of-war in certain suburban areas. Such resistance could be attributed to fear, superstition, ignorance, mis-information and lack of information (Philip and Offoboche, 2013). More so, people do not just react emotionally or behaviourally to life events, but their thinking mediates how they respond to realities or a given situation (Cognitive Behavioural Theory- CBT). Following this argument raised in CBT, specific thoughts or beliefs may not be in one's immediate consciousness in many instances, but with proper training and practice individuals can become aware of them. Oxford Encyclopedic Dictionary (Scott and Marshall eds., 2005) posits that behaviour can be learned through association or one conditioning of one kind of another. By implication, when people are intentionally informed or trained over a given cause, their cognitions will subsequently be targeted, modified, and changed. It is important therefore that vital health information has to be spread (Maden, Kongren & Limbu, 2010) particularly among areas with less of modern amenities.

Considering the fact that moves towards sustainable development goals align with health priorities particularly for African regions e.g. to tackle and end HIV/AIDS pandemic, there is every possibility that continuous awareness programmes will enhance health development goals (UN Africa Renewal, 2015). This assurance is furthermore based on the goal of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being (UN Sustainable Development Goals, 2015). As part of this global health agenda, Akwa Ibom State Agency for the Control of AIDS (2014), is saddled with the mission of reducing HIV/AIDS prevalence by promoting appropriate gender, cultural sensitive information ... prevention, treatment, care and support services. In the light of this, it was germane to contribute to these pro-health values by propagating basic health information pertaining to HIV/AIDS, which was partly the reason behind the HIV/AIDS awareness programme spearheaded by this author (librarian) in a suburban area.

Rationale:

In some ways the library and information science sector has over the years encouraged information ventures beyond the confines of typical library system, and to launch into innovative information provision around and beyond its immediate community. On the other hand, local communities in many developing communities require information though not many persons and groups may be interested in being involved to actualise such endeavour. Statistics from National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA, 2016) reports that Akwa Ibom State (where this study was based) rated 6th among other states with high prevalence. This was a factor to the health awareness project on HIV/AIDS carried out in the communities discussed in this paper.

An unpleasant occurrence which also gingered the awareness programme was when a young teenage girl contracted HIV which manifested into full blown AIDS based on diagnoses before her demise. This author came in contact with her just like any other per (PLWHA)...

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