Hygiene promotion for Delta children

Publicado: 3 mayo 2011 9:22 CET

By Aung Kyaw Kyaw and Htet Aung (MRCS) in Myanmar

In the remote, southern reaches of the Ayeyarwady Delta, children are becoming agents of positive behaviour change. Thanks to an extensive series of health education sessions targeted at schools in the sub-township of Haingyi island, approximately 7,574 school children have been educated on hygiene and sanitation, disease prevention, and nutrition.

These children in turn are helping to improve hygiene practices among their own families as well as passing on other important health messages. One such example is little Ma Kay Zin Lei Lei, a kindergarten pupil at Bant Bway primary school. “Yes, I know how to wash my hands.” Pointing to Red Cross volunteers, she says: “Those ‘sisters’ came to my school and taught us. Our teacher also reminds us to wash our hands”. Another youngster, Mg Winn Min Khine, a grade five student, is aware of the risks from diarrhoea and malaria. “We have to wash our hands properly to prevent diarrhoea and I told my parents about it.”

It’s not just demonstrations that are helping to get the message across. Poetry recitals and sing-along sessions go a long way in sustaining the interest of students and relaying key messages. “Health officers come to our school to teach us to be clean when we eat and when we use the latrine. They also teach us songs like Mr Fly,” says Ye Naing, a primary student in Kan Thar village in Labutta township. “We have our own nail-clippers and cut our nails regularly”, he adds. “They also told us to explain what we have learnt to our parents.”

Distributions of hygiene kits for each student, containing soap bars, toothbrush, toothpaste, nail clipper, and hand towel, as well as items for general use in each school such as buckets, dippers and rubbish bins, complement these sessions. The headmaster at Bant Bway Primary School welcomes the visits made by the health teams. In fact, he believes the activities should be continued on a regular basis.

The Red Cross health programme also provides for education sessions targeted at adult populations. Red Cross volunteers and community volunteers have been trained to continue with community-oriented health activities even after the end of the National Society’s Cyclone Nargis recovery operation.