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Schools boost efforts to increase immunization in cholera-affected communities in Aden

Two members of the UNICEF-supported C4D school health club in Aden presenting their activities to raise awareness about health and hygiene best practices.

Story by Marie Bracquemont, Reports Officer

Aden, Yemen, 28 January 2019  – The threat of cholera and Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) still looms high in Yemen as it recovers from one of the World’s worst outbreak in 2017 where more than a million people were infected with over 4,300 deaths. Children were the worst victims. In 2018, over 361,000 suspected cases were registered, with 493 associated deaths across the country. A total of 227 of the 333 districts in country have reported cases during 2018.

UNICEF and partners have stepped up prevention and response activities including surveillance and case detection, community engagement and awareness, enhancing laboratory testing capacity; and training and deploying rapid response teams to affected areas.

Community engagement is an essential component of UNICEF’s cholera response to prevent the epidemic from spreading further and to educate the populations living in high-risk areas about simple lifesaving hygiene and sanitation practices they can easily adopt to protect themselves from the disease and stay healthy.

Schools are one of the best platforms to be used for such community-based health activities. In cooperation with students and education personnel, UNICEF Communication for Development (C4D) in partnership with local health authorities set up health clubs in 41 schools in Aden governorate, to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination against cholera, diphtheria and other preventable diseases such as tetanus, and to promote hygiene practices in schools. So far, more than 615 children have been trained as health focal persons and advocates.

On 31st December 2018, in cooperation with the local authorities and partners, UNICEF organized a school health attainment ceremony to recognize the efforts made by the school health club members in educating their peers on health and hygiene best practices and cholera prevention both at school and in their families and communities. “This is a very successful project,” says Ansar Rasheed, C4D officer in UNICEF Aden Field Office. “In the last two years, the UNICEF-supported C4D school health clubs have greatly contributed not only to raise awareness about cholera and diphtheria but also to increase the immunization coverage for preventable diseases, especially tetanus, polio and measles, taking part in many immunization campaigns in the area, and I am proud of the work achieved as a team,” Ansar adds.

The school health attainment ceremony held in Aden to recognize the efforts made by the 615 school health club members to keep their communities healthy.

“Since I joined the C4D health club, I feel more confident. I believe more in myself and I know I have the power to make a difference in my community by increasing their knowledge to stay safe and healthy,” says Samah, 13 years old from Masabyen school in Aden.

Ansar Rasheed, UNICEF C4D Officer (in eye glasses), has been following the health clubs project in the last two years.

A group of school health club members disseminating messages on health and hygiene practices during the ceremony held in Aden last month.

“I like to feel helpful and to talk to other students about the right health practices to adopt. Our school is also a good place to exchange information and help people stay healthy,” Akram (on the right), 13 years old, Al-Nahdah school, Aden governorate.

This two-year C4D project has been implemented thanks to the generous support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre) and the United Arab Emirates, both key partners of UNICEF for the humanitarian response in Yemen.



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