Community Champion: Nigerian Couple Use Their Wedding Reception To Educate People On Malaria Prevention

Wedding ceremony is one of the biggest events any individual would host in his or her lifetime. It brings together families, friends and associates, many of who turn out in large numbers with gorgeous attires.

For Dr & Mrs Laz Ude Eze, theirs was quite different.

Although the guests and the event had the usual attributes of a successful wedding ceremony – the merriment, gorgeous attire and the likes; what made it different from the usual wedding ceremony was that the hundreds of people who came to Women Development Centre Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State in Southeast Nigeria were given something different from the usual household wares like plates, cups, etc.

DSC_7602When the Master of Ceremony reached the tenth item on the agenda of the Wedding Reception that read, “LLIN Demonstration – from the couple to guests”; the guests weren’t sure what to expect.

The couples used their own wedding ceremony to campaign on how to beat malaria in Nigeria, especially in the people of Abakaliki, many of whom were attended the wedding ceremony.

A well packaged bluish mosquito treated nets was distributed to all guests. It was accompanied by a sticker with the couple’s pictures and the inscription “#BeatMalaria, Sleep inside Treated Mosquito Nets.”

At the wedding ceremony, a young man and woman (Mr Jay Thomas and Mrs Janet Iwunoh) mounted the stage to educate the guests on proper use of the nets in malaria prevention. They emphasised that malaria could be more deadly among pregnant women and children under the age of 5 years and the need for them to use the nets properly.

The wedding brochure which was earlier distributed during the church service also had information analysed in bullet point to describe various methods of preventing malaria.

The groom, Dr Laz Ude Eze is not new to the campaign of beating malaria, a vulnerable disease that continues to kill millions of people in Africa.BeatMalaria

Dr Laz Ude Eze started the #BeatMalaria Social Media Campaign in Nigeria in October 2013 at the Abuja Social Good Summit where he spoke on the Use of Mobile to prevent malaria-related morbidities and deaths. He also leads the #Choice4Life Advocacy that promotes women sexual and reproductive health and rights on social media.

Dr Eze is a graduate of the College of Medicine of the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. He holds a Master of Public Health Degree and Graduate Certificate in Global Health from the University of Kentucky, United States of America. Though multi-talented and versatile, he’s widely known for his activities in health advocacy and promotion especially on radio and social media.  He hosts #TalkHealth9ja, a popular weekly radio show on Wazobia 99.5FM in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. He also leads malaria prevention campaign on social media with the use of the hashtag #BeatMalaria. His wife, Mrs Ifeoma Ude Eze is of the teaching profession but confessed that her interest in health advocacy has grown tremendously since she met her hubby. Apparently, she has become a beacon of support for her husband.

When asked what inspired his passion for health advocacy to the extent of including it as an activity during your wedding reception, Dr Eze explained that: “I hate to see people lose their lives from preventable and curable health conditions. It gets me very upset. Such anger fuels my passion for preventive medicine and health promotion. As a medical student, I watched many children die almost every day from severe malaria. I wouldn’t have believed that malaria could be such a deadly disease. So I decided to use any opportunity or platform to pass the #BeatMalaria message to stop this number one killer of the Nigerian Children.”

Guests at the event who spoke to our correspondent were visibly excited with the gifts. Mrs Nnenna Njoku, a nursing mother said, “I’m very happy to be here. This mosquito net is the most precious wedding gift I’ve ever received. With this, my baby can now sleep with two eyes closed. May God bless this lovely couple.”

A long time friend and high school mate of Laz, Mr Uchenna Okoro expressed no surprise.

“He’s the most innovative guy I’ve ever known and his passion for health is incredible”, he said.

Another health worker and school mate of the groom at the University of Ibadan, Mr Gboyega Aderionye said: “By doing this, Laz has demonstrated that health promotion activities can be extended beyond formal settings.  I love this. I’m inspired!”

Laz was recently recognised as a Social Good Ambassador in recognition of his selfless health promotion initiatives.

 

Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and Ventures-Africa.com. She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde

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