MESSENGERS OF PEACE

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Self-care is the watch word of one of my mentors based in Montevideo, Uruguay. She has stood behind me like the rock of Gibraltar and would always tell us to practice self-care each time we went into the fields for Community Education Outreach programmes on Ebola.

The volunteer peace messengers and I often wonder why is it that the head of SASEF is always requesting us to take care of ourselves. The answer to this question is never farfetched.

As the incidence of Ebola Virus Disease continues to decline and schools are gearing up to re-open, self-care of those going to schools also becomes our main message to young people in Liberia.

Whether we like it or not, we cannot deny that Ebola Virus Disease will remain a major threat in the years ahead. And it is based on this premise that we continue with our series on “Ebola Educates Campaign” –Self Care.

It’s being a while now that school children have been taught or provided basic hygiene education, like hand washing before eating and after every toilet/bathroom break; brushing dental hygiene and hair grooming.

Most people do not consider daily bathing a necessity, many more prefer to treat high fever at home through self-medication rather than go for proper medical consultation, diagnosis and treatment.

In order to alleviate the social side effects of the EVD, Government and others need to put in place facilities for self-care, monitor specific self-care activities and practices such as temperature screening, hygiene kits, and water and put in place interventions to deal with potential health threats. Clean hands protect lives. By promoting hand washing techniques, we can contribute to preventing child illnesses and at the same time halt the spread of diseases, such as diarrhea, typhoid, pneumonia and Ebola.

As we progress with our Ebola Educates campaign, we urge Government, faith based organizations and private sector educators to improve sanitation in our schools by dealing with the inequalities in school sanitation. Lack of access to toilets and urinals have detrimental long-term effect especially on girls.

There is a need to establish a standard ratio of toilet facility to user for girls and boys alike. UNICEF standard provides one toilet for twenty-five girls and a toilet and urinal for eighty boys.

Not unrelated to poor hygiene facilities in schools is the equally poor refuse disposal and insufficient water in schools and urban slums of Liberia. The adoption of best practices in one area would critically influence behaviours with respect to health care. If schools are limited in the provision of facilities that would encourage health habits and behaviours, we should not expect our school children to attach much importance to health care.

Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia is committed to advocating for self-care through its peace clubs and dissemination of health education materials during its Ebola Education Outreach programmes in various communities.

School proprietors, teachers and administrators have pivotal role in inculcating clean and healthy self-care habits among school children and by extension their families, friends and wider community and improving water and sanitation in schools.

With the idea that everyone has a role to play in the fight against Ebola, MOP-Liberia is inviting all students to submit their stories on Ebola. Our campaign on “Ebola Educates is designed for the general public and in the best interest of school children.

Support the “Ebola Educates” Campaign in kind through your stories or with your generous donation.

Until next week, when we come to you with another article on: “Ebola Educates-Schools Protocols”, Peace First, Peace above all else, May Peace prevail on earth.

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