30 December 2013

Gambia: Teachers Trained On Diarrhoea & Pneumonia Prevention

Crr — The Directorate of Health Promotion and Education Unit on Sunday concluded a two-day training workshop for teachers on Diarrhea and Pneumonia prevention at Bansang Upper Basic School, in Upper Fulladu west District, Central River Region (CRR) south. The training, which was funded by UNICEF and coordinated by the CRR Health Management Team, is targeting two hundred and fifty teachers in CRR, URR and NBR.

Addressing the participants, the regional health director Jankoba Jabbie spoke extensively on the importance of the training, saying it is intended to promote six highly cost effective key household behaviours. He asserted that poor personal hygiene; malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and limited practice of exclusive breastfeeding are among the leading causes of childhood illness and death in developing countries including the Gambia.

Jabbie disclosed that diarrhea is among the four leading causes of illness and death among children under the age of five years in the Gambia. He noted that booklets have been produced containing messages, which will be useful to teachers in promoting health in schools and homes.

Speaking on behalf of the directorate of Health Promotion and Education Unit Jim Jallow, said the training will go a long way towards equipping teachers with the basic skills and knowledge on the six cost effective key household behaviours. He said teacher-child-parent approach has been used in a number of countries for health education purposes, citing that child-to-child education is also an effective means of disseminating information between children in and out of school. Jallow posited that the 4+2 key household practices are chosen base on evidence that malaria, diarrheal diseases, pneumonia, poor personal hygiene and limited practice of exclusive breastfeeding are among the leading causes of childhood illness and death in developing countries.

According to him, the objective is to empower teachers to effectively transfer knowledge and skills on diarrhea and pneumonia prevention to pupils and eventually to pupil's household members. He opined that children need support in taking greater responsibility for their health. In addition, school children are an effective channel for communicating messages to parents. Jallow reiterated that parents or caregivers may sometimes become more likely to accept and act on the messages from their family members such as their own children than any outsider. For children to be intelligently involved, they need to have easy access to the right kind of supportive information concerning their health situation and how they themselves can help to improve it .

The principal public health nurse Ebba Secka said schools are the right setting and teachers the right trainers in reaching out to children with reliable information. He pointed out that the training of teachers as trainers on prevention of diarrhea and pneumonia can give pupils the knowledge to take the required action to protect themselves and inform their peers and household members. Secka noted that the value of training of teachers lies in the fact that they learn to think critically and analytically and are termed as agents of change in the society.

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