100 Health messages for Children to Learn and Share
It’s a pleasure to bring to you our 100 messages for children to learn and share in our 10 priority topics. They have taken two years to create. They are designed for children aged 10-14. We know there are difficult words like ‘contaminated’ and ‘directed’ but we also know that children like difficult words and enjoy learning how to say them and what they mean.
Our messages and other content have already been used to help support the development of health education materials by Save the Children and by the Partnership for Child Development.
We are pasting the messages below plus here is a link to the PDF for anyone who wants to download them easily.
Our next step is to find interested experts who can help ensure these are the best and most up-to-date messages and to help us make changes to the messages as new evidence emerges.
We know that a ‘message’ for a child to learn and share is only a starting point. In the projects we help, we witness how the messages become like a doorways for children who use them to start chatting to their families and friends, they are the start of an investigation: could we do this? why don’t we do that? etc.
Please use this content as you wish and please let us know how you get on and what you think of it.
- Malaria is a disease spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.
- Malaria is dangerous. It causes fever & can kill, especially children & pregnant women.
- Prevent malaria by sleeping under insecticide treated bed nets that kill mosquitoes & stop them biting
- Malaria mosquitoes often bite between sunset & sunrise.
- When children get malaria they may grow and develop more slowly.
- There are three types of insecticide spraying to kill malaria mosquitoes: in houses, in the air & onto water.
- The signs for malaria are high fever, headaches, muscle & stomach aches & chills. Rapid tests and treatment saves lives.
- Malaria can be prevented & treated with medicine as directed by a health worker.
- Malaria lives in an infected person’s blood and can cause anaemia that makes us tired and weak.
- Anti-malaria pills prevent or reduce malaria and anaemia in places and at times when there is lots of malaria in a community.
- Diarrhoea is watery poo that happens three or more times a day.
- Diarrhoea is caused by germs getting into the mouth from contaminated food, drink or touching the mouth with dirty fingers or using dirty spoons or cups.
- The loss of water and salts makes the body weak. Unless these are replaced, diarrhoea can kill young children quickly from dehydration.
- Diarrhoea can be prevented by giving extra safe drinks like safe water or coconut or rice water. Babies need breast milk most of all.
- A child with diarrhoea may have a dry mouth and tongue, sunken eyes, no tears, loose skin, cool hands and feet and in babies a sunken soft spot on the head.
- Children doing more than 5 watery poos/day or bloody poo or who start to vomit too, MUST be seen by a health worker.
- ORS stands for ‘Oral Rehydration Solution’. Find ORS at clinics & shops. Mix it right with clean safe water to make the best drink for diarrhoea.
- Most medicines do not work but zinc pills stop diarrhoea sooner for children over 6 months. ORS and other drinks MUST be given as well.
- Young children with diarrhoea need tasty, mashed food as often as possible to make their body stronger.
- Diarrhoea can be prevented by breastfeeding babies, good hygiene habits, immunisation (especially against rotavirus and measles) and by making sure food is safe.
- Food that makes us GO plus food that makes us GROW, plus food that makes us GLOW is GOOD food that makes the body strong!
- Malnutrition happens if we eat too little, or eat too much junk food. Avoid it by sitting & sharing the right amount of good food at meals.
- Children under 2 years need to be weighed each month at an under 5’s clinic to check that they’re growing well.
- If children become thin or swollen in the face or feet or too quiet, they need to see a health worker.
- When children are ill they may lose appetite. Give them lots to drink and soup & more food than normal when getting better.
- Breast milk is the only food and drink a baby needs from birth to 6 months. It has Go, Grow & Glow!
- After 6 months babies need breast milk + mashed or ground family food 3-4 times a day + 1 snack between each meal.
- Eating natural foods of different colours every week is the best way to have a healthy balanced diet.
- Red, yellow and green fruits and vegetables are full of ‘micronutrients’ – too small to see, but they make our bodies strong.
- Prevent sickness & sadness by washing food we eat & cook. Use cooked food quickly or store it properly.
Coughs, Colds & Pneumonia
- 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.
- Smoking tobacco makes lungs weak. Breathing smoke from other people smoking is also harmful.
- Everyone gets coughs and colds. Most get better quickly. If a cough or colds last more than 3 weeks, visit a health worker.
- There are types of germs called bacteria and others called viruses. Viruses cause most coughs and colds and cant be killed using medicine.
- Lungs are the part of the body that breathes. Coughs or cold make lungs weak. Pneumonia is a bacteria germ that causes serious illness in weak lungs.
- 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.
- Fast breathing is 40-50 or 60 breaths a minute or more (depending on a child’s age). A child breathing FAST must go to a health worker FAST!
- A good diet (and breastfeeding babies) a smoke-free home and immunisation helps prevent serious illness like pneumonia.
- Treat a cough or cold by keeping warm, drinking tasty drinks often (like soup and juice), resting and keeping the nose clean.
- Stop coughs, colds and other illnesses spreading from one to another. Keep hands, eating and drinking utensils clean and cough into paper.
Caring for Babies & Young Children
- Play games, cuddle, talk, show, laugh and sing to babies and young children as much as you can.
- Babies and young children become angry, afraid and tearful easily & can’t explain their feelings. Always be kind.
- Young children learn fast: how to walk, make sounds, eat and drink. Help them but let them make safe mistakes too!
- All girls and all boys, are as important as each other. Treat everyone well especially children who are sick or who have disabilities.
- Young children copy the actions of those around them. Look after yourself, behave well near them & show them good ways.
- When young children cry, there’s a reason (hunger, fear, pain). Try to find out why.
- Help prepare young children for learning at school by playing number and word games, painting or drawing, Tell them stories, sing songs and dance.
- In a group, watch and record in a notebook how a baby grows into a toddler and when they do important ‘firsts’ like speak, walk & talk.
- Help prevent diseases by helping adult carers and older children check that babies & young children are clean (especially hands and faces), drink safe water & eat enough good food.
- Give loving care to babies & young children but don’t forget about yourself. You are important too!
- Millions of children have worms living inside their body, in a part called ‘the intestines’. This is where the food we eat is used by our body.
- Different kinds of worms can live in our bodies like roundworm, whipworm, hookworm and bilharzia (schistosomiasis). There are others too!
- Worms can make us feel ill or weak. They can cause stomach-aches coughs, fever and sickness.
- Worms live inside your body so you might not know they are there but sometime you can see worms in your poo.
- Worms and their eggs get in to our bodies in different ways: some get in from food or drink like unsafe water. Others get in through bare feet.
- Killing worms with ‘de-worming’ treatment is easy and cheap. It’s given by health workers every 6 or 12 months or more for some worms.
- Worm eggs live in pee and poo. Use latrines or get rid of pee and poo safely. Wash your hands with soap after you pee or poo, and if you help someone younger so worm eggs don’t get on your hands.
- Stop worms getting into your body by washing hands with soap after a pee or poo, washing fruit and vegetables, before preparing food, eating or drinking and by wearing shoes.*
- Some worms live in the soil so always wash your hands with soap after touching soil.
- When watering plants to eat, make sure you use water that does not have human pee or poo in it.
Water, Sanitation & Hygiene
- To wash hands properly: use water & a little soap. Rub for 10 seconds, rinse & air-dry or dry with a clean cloth/paper, not on dirty clothes.
- Wash your hands properly before touching the T-zone on your face (eyes, nose and mouth) as this is where germs enter the body. Avoid touching the T-zone when you can.
- Wash your hands BEFORE preparing food, eating or giving food to babies, AFTER pee or poo or cleaning baby or helping someone who is ill.
- Keep your body and clothes fresh & clean. Keep your nails & toes, teeth & ears, face & hair CLEAN. Shoes/flip-flops protect against worms.
- Keep human & animal poo & pee away from flies that spread germs. Use latrines & afterwards, wash your hands.
- Keep your face fresh and clean. Wash well with a little clean water and soap morning and evening, plus if flies buzz near sticky eyes.
- Don’t touch clean, safe water with dirty hands or cups. Keep it safe & free from germs.
- Sunlight makes water safer. Filter it into a plastic bottles & leave for 6 hours until it’s safer to drink.
- When you can, use the sun to dry & destroy germs on plates & utensils after washing.
- Kill or reduce flies by keeping the home & community free from rubbish & dirt. Store rubbish safely until it’s collected, burned or buried.
- Millions of parents all over the world every year make sure their children grow strong and protected from diseases by taking them for immunisation.
- When you are ill with an infectious disease, a tiny, invisible germ has entered your body. The germ makes more germs and stops your body working well.
- Your body has special soldier-like protectors called ‘antibodies’ to fight germs. When germs are killed, antibodies stay in your body ready to fight more again.
- Immunisation puts an ‘antigen’ into your body (by injection or by mouth). They teach your body to make the solider-like antibodies to fight a disease.
- Some immunisations have to be given more than once to help your body build up enough antibodies to protect against a disease.
- Horrible diseases that cause death and suffering like measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, and tetanus (and more!) can be prevented by immunisation.
- To protect your body you need to be immunised before the disease strikes.
- To protect children right away immunisations are given to babies. If a baby missed their chance they can be immunised later.
- Children can immunised at different times for different diseases. Find out when and where your community immunises children.
- If babies or young children are a little unwell on the day of immunisation they can still be immunised.
HIV & AIDS
- Our body is amazing and every day there are special ways it protects us from getting diseases from the germs we breathe, eat, drink or touch.
- HIV is a germ called a VIRUS (the V is for VIRUS). It is an especially DANGEROUS virus that stops our body protecting itself well from other germs.
- Scientists have created medicines that stop the HIV from being dangerous but no one has found a way to remove it from the body completely.
- After time and without medicine, people with HIV develop AIDS. AIDS is a group of serious illnesses which make the body weaker and weaker.
- HIV is invisible and lives in blood and other liquids in the body that are made during sex. HIV can be passed 1. During sex 2. From infected mothers to babies and 3. In blood.
- People protect themselves from getting HIV from sex by 1. Not having sex 2. Being in a faithful relationship when both people know they do not have HIV or 3. By having sex using condoms (protected sex).
- You can play, share food, drink, hold hands and hug people with HIV and AIDS. It is safe and you will not catch HIV this way.
- People with HIV and AIDS sometime feel afraid and sad. Like everyone, they need love and support and so do their families. They need to talk about their worries.
- To help themselves and others, people who think they may have HIV or AIDS must go to a clinic or hospital for testing and counselling.
- In many countries, people who have HIV get help and treatment. A medicine called ‘Anti Retroviral Therapy’ (ART) helps them live long lives.
Accidents & Injury Prevention
- Cooking areas are dangerous for young children. Keep them away from fire and from sharp or heavy objects.
- Children need to keep away from breathing smoke from fires. It causes illness and coughing.
- Anything poisonous must be kept out of the reach of children. Don’t put poisons in empty soft drink bottles.
- If a child is burned, put cold water on the burn immediately until the pain lessens (10 minutes or more).
- Vehicles and bicycles kill and injure children every day. Be aware of all vehicles & show others how to be safe too.
- Look out for dangers for young children like knives, glass, electric plugs, wire, nails, pins etc.
- Stop young children eating dirt or putting small things into or near their mouths (e.g. coins, buttons) as these can block breathing.
- Stop young children playing near to water where they may fall in (rivers, lakes, ponds, wells).
- Create a first aid kit for home or school (soap, scissors, disinfectant & antiseptic cream, cotton wool, thermometer, bandages/plasters & ORS).
- When you go somewhere new with a young child, be aware! Look and ask about the dangers for young children.