NEWS

72,993 FAMILIES SAFER FROM DISEASE2011-11-23

This year saw the culmination of our health education campaign, which began in March 2009 as a response to the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe.

We worked in 24 communities and trained 280 peer education volunteers. We covered all the densely populated suburbs of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, where municipal services such as water, electricity, sewage, refuse collection are erratic at best and non-existent at worst. Hence, the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery was high.

Peer health education volunteers in Norton
In each community, our two community development workers trained 10-15 local women market traders in basic messages about hygiene, healthy living, disease prevention, and what to do if you or a family member gets sick. These women then passed the message on to everyone they met an average of 260 families each. (Working at the market stalls where the whole community comes to buy groceries they do meet representatives of every family, and because they know the people they can ensure that nobody misses out).

The volunteers reached representatives of 72,993 households, so (given an average household size of ten), we estimate the message reached 730,000 people!

" This health education campaign is really helping; everyone l talk to is very eager to tell the next person." (SEED health campaign volunteer)

The volunteers were given sturdy water containers to keep clean water clean, and a basket of soap and groceries as a 'thank you' for their efforts. These added to the preventative measures in place, enabling improved cleanliness and healthy diets.

The impact of our health campaign was very positive:

  • 9 out of 10 people reached now know how diseases such as cholera & dysentery are spread, and what can be done to prevent them
  • Cholera has disappeared, and prevalence of other diseases greatly reduced, in the areas where we have worked
  • 95% of people reached know how to assist victims without endangering themselves
  • Ratio of people feeling stigmatised for having various diseases has reduced from three in every five to just one in every five, thanks to greater understanding
  • A variety of ministries, police, and other NGOs support our work, and one described our approach as "the best model" they have seen
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Funding from the SAFEs (Southern African Fund for Education) of both Jesus and St John's Colleges (Cambridge University) enabled us to work in the final six high-density suburbs of Harare, thus completing the programme.

One lady in Norton, who almost lost her daughter to cholera, said "Knowledge is power". She now boasts vast knowledge to deal with such diseases in future.

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