Village Health Action

Ambassador: Egide Haragirimana , Burundi

Egide co-founded Village Health Action in 2012 to help prevent the spread of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) through education and empowerment. Village Health Action provides clinical services to drug users, helping the rehabilitation process and facilitating social reinsertion. Village Health Action has treated 2,800 drug users to date, and conducted sensitisation and education training sessions with a further 6,000 people. Many of these drug addicts are young people, so Village Health Action helps them to overcome their dependency and return to school to complete their education. The organisation also conducts mobile education sessions, where the team travels to communities with high rates of drug abuse to educate locals about the dangers of drug use and how to minimise the risk of spreading HIV. The rate of HIV infection in Burundi remains high1 and can be easily spread through the improper use of needles. Village Health Action thus works to increase education and minimise the risk of spreading NCDs whilst also helping people to overcome drug dependency and become active members of society.

Egide also works on a project called Empower Youth through Vocational Skills to help young people to develop their skills and become productive participants of the national economy. Burundi is one of the 15 countries in the world with the highest unemployment rates, according to the UN International Labour Organization. Therefore, it is critical that young Burundians are trained to be competitive internationally, as well as having the skills to create their own jobs. Young people are taught skills such as English language and computer literacy.

The Youth Empowerment project started off as an initiative to help medical students to learn medical English to help them access opportunities abroad. From this, Egide saw the need for students in other faculties to have access to language and development skills to improve their competitiveness both domestically and abroad. Egide also co-founded the Burundi Medical Journal to help young doctors to publish their work with a view to improving the quality of research.