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Health ministry to train schoolchildren on dengue prevention

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-07-2017 Neetu Chandra Sharma

New Delhi: Making children the change agents for dengue prevention, the ministry of health and family welfare is planning to include information on dengue in schools’ extracurricular activities.

Under its ‘Strategy and Plan of Action for Effective Community Participation for Prevention and Control of Dengue’, the Union health ministry has decided to involve children for detection and elimination of containers that can lead to breeding of Aedes mosquitoes that spread dengue.

“The move will be in the direction of community participation and implementation of community based programs encouraging the children—the non-health partners—in preventing mosquitogenic conditions. Children can be best used for this purpose because dengue prevention methods will be made a part of learning in schools,” said Dr Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services (DGHS), ministry of health and family welfare.

“We have devised a plan where schoolchildren can be trained on how to detect and eliminate the breeding of dengue vector in and around schools, houses and in the neighbourhood. Schoolchildren in groups may be taken around the school premises during games period,” said Dr Prasad.

The ministry has taken a cue from Bucaramanga, Colombia, where high school students were trained in Aedes aegypti biology and control and assisted as community-based health educators. Results over 11 years (1992–2001) showed a steady decrease (with occasional increases) in the number of houses with Aedes aegypti larvae present.

“On similar lines, to encourage the school students, they can be asked to cover at least 10 open containers in his/her household or in the neighbourhood (under the guidance of parents) and monitor it for 6 months (whether the cover is in place or not). If no breeding is detected in those containers for consecutive six months (by the health workers) the students can be awarded a certificate as a token of appreciation for best work towards society,” said Dr Prasad.

Projects for involvement of schoolchildren will be developed at the state and district levels for ensuring their participation in dengue control activities. It will include information on identification of Aedes mosquito, different types of breeding sites, source reduction activities, life cycle of vector mosquito, do’s and don’ts for prevention and control of dengue.

The students will complete project cards or reports under the supervision of their teachers and parents and submit to the teacher within a specific time period and may be rewarded after assessment of their project. The Union health ministry also plans that schools which have done commendable work in vector control will also be recognized.

The health ministry recently facilitated primary- and secondary-level schoolchildren to be sensitized during school prayer sessions so they could be the direct source of information to their community in Odisha. In the national capital, dengue home work card scheme was adopted by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and few other corporations.

The country has witnessed over 18,700 cases of dengue this year. The maximum number of cases have been reported in Kerala at 9,104, followed by Tamil Nadu with 4,174 cases till 2 July.

According to the figures available with the Union health ministry, Karnataka has reported 1,945 cases, Gujarat 616, Andhra Pradesh 606 and West Bengal 469, among other states, till 2 July.

The national capital has already recorded around 100 cases. As many as 10,952 chikungunya cases have also been reported in the country till 2 July. Karnataka has recorded the highest number of cases at 4,047.

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