Every year, thousands of children die in Iraq as a result of easily treatable conditions such as diarrhoea and respiratory infections. But this needn’t be the case.
AMAR teams throughout the country are working to deliver simple and affordable health messages which will stamp this out for good – such as the importance of hand-washing, and the need to drink safe water. Delivering them to school children, families and communities, AMAR is helping to ingrain healthy behaviour into everyday life, and is subsequently promoting long-term improvements to public health.
Health Education has long been a central element to AMAR’s work in improving the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable Iraqis. With curricular designed in close partnership with both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, AMAR’s Health Education Programme is being delivered across Iraq – from IDP camps in the North, to the Marshlands of the South.
“Recently, I was delivering a health session to my students,” Zeinab, a teacher from Basra province, told AMAR. “I asked a five year old girl if she feels she’s benefitting from the health lessons given to her and her friends. “Before, we never washed our hands before and after meals, or after going to the toilet,” she told me. “But since you talked to us about the importance of personal hygiene and hand washing in protecting us from catching infections, I’ve started to regularly wash my hands with soap and water.””
Most recently, AMAR has launched its Health Education Programme in Al-Qurna, Basra. Generously supported by the Weir Group, AMAR is now delivering health education to 45 schools in the surrounding area, as well as to local families through Women Health Volunteer visits.
Teachers have received training in areas such as personal hygiene; health problems commonly faced by students; first aid, and the effects of smoking, and they are now sharing advice with their students through regular Health Education classes. In June and July, they taught over 3,600 students each month!
“Bringing Health Education into schools is an ideal way to maximise the impact of the information – when ingrained at a young age, these health messages stay with a person forever” explained Roisin Blake, AMAR’s Project Officer overseeing the Al Qurna project. “In this way, a course of Health Education lessons can result in a lifetime of healthy habits and better understanding of how one’s own body works.”
“This project will be delivering Health Education, which is so necessary in a country like Iraq where formal health provision is so limited,” added AMAR’s Regional Director in Iraq, Dr Ali Muthanna. “In this context, Health Education helps people to cope, and to manage their health themselves.”