School health clubs turn pupils into health advocates in school and at home

Written By: Super User Category: Blog

Like millions of children across the world, 13-year-old Naisieku looks forward to a brighter future after completing her school and enrolling in one of the prestigious colleges. However, for her and her schoolmates at Ngoswani Primary School located at the edge of the world famous Maasai Mara National Reserve in Narok County, keeping common diseases and pandemics away is key to achieving their dreams.

Like millions of children across the world, 13-year-old Naisieku looks forward to a brighter future after completing her school and enrolling in one of the prestigious colleges. However, for her and her schoolmates at Ngoswani Primary School located at the edge of the world famous Maasai Mara National Reserve in Narok County, keeping common diseases and pandemics away is key to achieving their dreams.

Naisieku’s Maasai community are pastoralists whose livelihoods depended on their animals making the care and protection these animals central to their survival. In recent years though, some of the practices have had for years have proven to be harmful. Practices such as eating uninspected meat or meat from carcases of dead animals have proved to be harmful and a source of diseases that threaten their dreams and the lives of the entire community. Dropping such practices and adopting other good hygiene practices are some of the changes that Naisieku and 53 other pupils who are members of Ngoswani Primary Schools’ health club want their families and community to adopt. 

The pupils have named their health club ‘Bila Shaka” a Swahili phrase meaning without a doubt. Ngoswani Primary School is one of the school health clubs formed under the Community Epidemics and Pandemics Preparedness programme implemented by the Kenya Red Cross Society and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (IFRC).

 In Kenya, the project is implemented in Bomet, Narok, West Pokot and Tharaka Nithi Counties.

The goal of CP3 programme is to increase the community’s capacity to prevent, detect and respond to outbreaks. Under the health club, pupils are taught about some of the common diseases in their community, especially those that can be passed from animals to humans.

Naisieku says since joining the club in the year 2020, she has become a champion for good health in school and at home.

“We have learned how diseases such as Anthrax, and rabies are spread and how to prevent them. We have also been taught what to do when for example you are bitten by a dog to prevent rabies infection,” Naisieku explained.

The health club is not only benefitting its members, “We have sessions where we educate other pupils here. We also teach this to our parents whenever they visit the school or when we are with them at home,” She added.

Mr Mathias, the patron of the club says the lessons taught by the health club have awakened a level of consciousness about personal and environmental hygiene in the pupils never seen before.

“You can see how our compound is clean. These pupils no longer throw litter around the school compound. They are also proactive in cleaning and filling up our handwashing jerry cans whenever they run out of water,” He explained.

 Since the start of the CP3 school programme, the project has established health clubs in 253 schools accross the three counties. The health clubs have a membership of nearly ten thousand pupils.