Coughs, Colds & Pneumonia: What 10 messages do children need to learn and share?

February is the month when Children for Health has a focus on coughs, colds and more serious illness. Our main task this month was to create our 10 top messages. They need to be as ‘generic’ as possible and answer this question: If you were to teach 10 easily ‘share-able’ messages on coughs and colds and more serious illness to primary school aged children, then what would these messages be? Here is our first draft. The messages are distilled from hours of reading and distilling from all the best documents we can find especially the great resource that is UNICEF’s Facts for Life Global:

Zaza and Zuzu demonstrate the Pneumonia Pendulum

Zaza and Zuzu demonstrate the Pneumonia Pendulum

  1. Smoke from cooking fires has tiny bits in it that can go into the lungs and cause illness. Avoid smoke by cooking outside. or where fresh air comes in and smoke escapes.
  2. Smoking tobacco makes lungs weak. Breathing smoke from other people smoking is also harmful.
  3. Everyone gets coughs and colds. Most get better quickly. If a cough or colds last more than 3 weeks, go to a health clinic.
  4. There are types of germs called bacteria and others called viruses. Viruses cause most coughs and colds and cant be killed using medicine.
  5. Lungs are the part of the body that breathes. Coughs or cold makes lungs weak. Pneumonia is a bacteria germ that causes serious illness in weak lungs.
  6. A sign of pneumonia (a serious illness) is fast breathing. Listen to the breath. Watch the chest going up and down. Other signs are fever, sickness & chest pain.
  7. Fast breathing is 40-50 or 60 breaths a minute or more (depending on the age of the child). A child breathing FAST must go to a health worker FAST!
  8. A good diet (and breastfeeding babies) a smoke-free home and immunisation helps prevent serious illness like pneumonia.
  9. Treat a cough or cold by keeping warm, drinking tasty drinks often (like soup and juice), resting and keeping the nose clean.
  10. Stop coughs, colds and other illnesses spreading from one to another. Keep hands, eating and drinking utensils clean and cough into paper.

ALL the messages will have a second ‘tier’ of information that expands the message, like Facts for Life’s ‘supporting information’.

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