For World Malaria Day I took over my sitemate’s English class to teach a group of 7th graders about malaria. Because we wanted to teach both health and English we put together a reading comprehension lesson using C-Change (a Behavior Change Communication strategy organization)’s storybook for kids about a girl named Mimi who gets sick with malaria.
The book was specially formulated for Ethiopian kids with character’s like Bitika and Litika the malarial mosquitos (female anopheles variety of course), and Mimi being told to finish her entire round of medication without sharing with family members (a common problem here and the source of drug resistant and recurring strains). The story went through transmission (Bitika and Litika live in a pond that appeared during rainy season), symptoms (always go the health center if you have a fever!), treatment (take ALL your medicine), and prevention (both bed nets and spraying). Plus we coloured in the pictures and put it on bright construction paper so y’know… it’s cool.
Cross sector activities for the win! Here were was our lesson for the day:
After practicing both listening and reading comprehension we went over some of the details of the health content. A question that came up was whether you could get HIV from a mosquito bite, since they suck your blood. Logical, but luckily (unluckily?) the H in HIV stands for Human so the virus dies inside a mosquito, and they can’t transmit it.
Using what they learned, we had the kids work in groups to make posters about the transmission and prevention of malaria. At the beginning when asked, only 1 student said he had a bed net in his house. At the end, the kids all wanted to know when to get a malaria net for their families (answer- health centers).
In Ethiopia, 68 percent of the country is officially a malaria zone, especially the lowlands. But as global warming contributes to crazier weather and mosquitoes migrating higher, highland areas on the malaria line (like Gondar) are seeing more cases. Days like World Malaria Day remind people that conditions can change, and awareness is the first step in prevention.
Here are the posters the kids came up with. Explanations in the captions: