CONTAINMENT

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Schoolgirl’s Malaria Knowledge Helps Family Avoid Getting Sick

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Fourteen-year-old Seub Saren who educates her family in Pailin about malaria. Pix by WHO/Sonny Krishnan

“Malaria is spread by female ‘nail’ mosquitoes during nighttime.”

“To avoid getting malaria, people should protect themselves from being bitten by female ‘nail’ mosquitoes by sleeping in a mosquito net.”

“People who have malaria must take proper medicines as prescribed by a physician.”

This is Lesson 11 at Grade 5 in Cambodia which young Cambodian students are taught at school as part of the curriculum for their “Applied Science” study.

However, like other lessons about such diseases as typhoid and dengue fevers, malaria is not an interesting lesson for many students who live in non-malaria infested areas.

But for 14-year-old Seub Saren who has attended a school in Siemreap Province’s Srey Snom District, she finds this knowledge about malaria particularly interesting and useful for her family when they moved to Pailin, where malaria posed a serious health threat to migrant workers like her family.

“After she returned from school, she told the family how to protect ourselves from malaria,” says her father, Se Seub, who is now living and working in Pailin with his wife and four children.

Seub says he was sick with malaria when he came to work in Pailin three years ago and that he had to go back to Siemreap for treatment.

However, he says he has never been sick with the disease during the last few years after learning to protect himself and his family as his daughter taught them.

Seub Saren says she knows very well about malaria from the lessons she has learned at school, which was why she could educate her family how to prevent the disease.

Like Seub Saren, other fifth graders in Pailin can also easily score a good mark for the lesson about malaria.

Unlike many other lessons about Science that is complicated and difficult to learn, Nuon Phon says teaching malaria as a subject in Pailin is very practical and relevant.

Nuon Thon, a Grade 5 teacher at Pailin’s Phoum Thmei Primary School, says his students are enthusiastic to learn about malaria, “because Pailin is a malaria infested area, so they are very interested.”

Unlike many other lessons about Science that is complicated and difficult to learn, Nuon Thon says teaching malaria as a subject in Pailin is very practical and relevant.

“I asked them where they lived; they said they lived in the mountainous areas,” says Thon as he explains the methodology he uses to teach his students.

“Then, I asked ‘Have you had malaria before?’ They said ‘Yes,” he continues. “’So, do you want to have malaria?’ they said ‘No.’”

“What should you do?” he asks and he would prod the students with more follow-up questions.

Nuon Thon says most students would be able to give answers to his questions about malaria as the rest of the class applauds for each correct answer their classmates give.

“Some students know the answers even before they learn the lesson,” he says proudly.

There is a good reason that some students may have knowledge about malaria before they come to school.

According Dr. Yok Sovann, Pailin Provincial Malaria Coordinator and Vice Director of the Provincial Health Department, health workers have used different approaches to educate people about malaria, including broadcasting malaria messages on radio and TV, and putting posters and billboards at different communities throughout the province.

However, he says teaching students about malaria can have multiple results in the society.

“Students can learn [about malaria] at a young age and pass on the knowledge to their families, brothers and sisters,” he says.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh

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Written by malariacontainment

November 28, 2010 at 10:57 am

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