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Tanzania One Health Club carries out awareness campaign on emerging pandemic threats in primary schools

Friday, 6 November 2015 - 6:24am
OHCEA Network Country: 
Pupils posing for a photo with their refreshments and fliers

By: Dr-Ng'umbi Nickson Hassanally

In the month of September 2015, the student club in Tanzania organized workshop focused on capacity building teaching pupils in primary schools of Kilosa District, Morogoro region on the emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases. This was a response from a baseline survey conducted in 2013 by One Health Central and Eastern Africa (OHCEA) to establish the status of interaction between humans, livestock and wildlife, the health status of the children under the age of 5 as well as the environmental health.

The results from this survey highlighted a need to conduct training for children particularly primary school children who are vulnerable to various zoonotic diseases due to high interaction with animals. Kilosa is one of the areas reported with high wildlife, domestic and human interaction due to existence of Mikumi National Park and the Maasai, who keeps livestock including dogs and cats which are rarely attended by vets and has kids looking after the animals instead of attending schools.

As part of participating in the national World Rabies day, pupils were exposed to information on rabies in detail. Other zoonotic diseases covered were Rift Valley Fever (RVF), Avian Influenza, and Ebola. The project involved 24 club members from two health institutions in Sokoine University of Agriculture, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (SUA) and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), from different disciplines (Medicine, Nursing, Animal Science, Wildlife Management, Epidemiology, Veterinary Medicine, Laboratory Sciences, Nutrition and Environmental Health Sciences) who participated as teachers to the primary school kids after being trained at SUA. The project was funded by OHCEA.

Facilitators (One Health Club members) distributing fliers

The program started by training the participants on the strategies to be used to deliver knowledge smoothly to the school children in the selected areas. The activity took place at SUA and lasted for two days from 19th to 20th in September 2015. Training of students was done by facilitators from One Health Workforce team from SUA and MUHAS. The coverage was on the general concept of One Health including how much it is new and how it can be friendly used to our community if it is effectively taught and implemented.

Teaching materials were made available during the trainings, and after it all the participants were divided into three groups which left to Kilosa. The flyers were written in Swahili and teaching was done in Swahili as well. Teachers were given the flyers as well. Pupils were given the knowledge on the first day. On the second day, 20 students from the last day were randomly selected to participate in the questionnaire of the taught materials.

Pupils posing for a photo after the lessons!

Facilitating club students were divided in three groups, each attending 15 schools located in six wards. Through this training about 3000 school children were reached and a result evaluation assessment conducted during the last day revealed that the message was very educative. In one of the school the head teacher said that one of the parent come to his school to thank him saying: 

‘Thank you for having these visitors in your school, they made aware that mosquitoes can cause Rift Valley Fever’

General observation were as follows

  • Ebola was widely known compared to rabies and the rest diseases. This may  be because of the last outbreak in West Africa
  • Radio and TVs were the main sources of the information to pupils
  • Pupils from the Maasai community (Village pupils), were shy and silent compared to agro-pastoral pupils related families
  • Teachers as well were happy to receive the One Health Student Club members