By Damali Mukhaye
Kyambogo University has rolled out free counselling services to neighbouring communities to protect students from dangers of alcohol, drug abuse and HIV/Aids.
The programme also aims at senstitising residents of Banda, Kireka, Namboole and other surrounding areas about the dangers of betting, child labour, prostitution, smoking and cancer prevalence, among other social problems.
The university Vice Chancellor, Prof Elly Katugunka, said management took the decision after their research revealed that 80 per cent of Kyambogo students live with some communities that have become drug addicts and others contracted HIV/Aids.
“Majority of people surrounding our university are young and drug addicts, do betting and also have a common problem of high HIV prevalence,” Prof Katugunka said while launching the open day for guidance and counselling at the university main campus on Wednesday.
“These problems are also among our students, so we think that when we roll out the counselling services to the neighbouring community and advise them to avoid such problems, we shall also address the same among our students,” he added.
Prof Katunguka said the guidance and counselling unit has already earmarked the necessary resources for the programme.
The president of Uganda Counseling Association, Mr Gastone Byamugisha, welcomed the initiative as a step in the right direction and asked other private and public universities to emulate Kyambogo.
“We understand majority of Kyambogo students are residing among the slums of Banda where communities have bad elements which students are exposed to. If the university wants to manage their students, it should also manage the community, or else, they are putting their students at a risk,” Mr Byamugisha said.
He also warned against the increasing cases of suicide among university students, attributing it to depression.
Mr Byamugisha said about four students from Makerere have committed suicide due to depression, citing failed relationships, drug addicts and financial problems as some of the causes of depression.
Ms Peace Kyasiimire, a counsellor at serenity centre, a private institute that rehabilitates drug addicts, advised the government to recognise the critical role the counseling association plays and support their activities.
Students flock Butabika
In May, the executive director of Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital, Dr David Basangwa, said majority of patients admitted to the facility are university and high school students suffering from alcohol and drug addiction or abuse.
“At any one time when you walk into Butabika, you find a total population of 850 patients compared to 750 last year,” Dr Basangwa said.
He said the hospital receives 20 new mental patients daily compared to between 10 and 15 previously.