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February Topic | Coughs & Colds | What Can Children Do?

Our February topic is Coughs, Colds & Pneumonia.

Our 100 Health Messages for Children to Learn and Share are simple, reliable health education messages aimed at children aged 8-14, this includes young adolescents aged 10-14. We feel that it is especially useful and important to make sure that young adolescents are informed as this age group often cares for young children in their families. Also, it’s important to recognise and praise the work they are doing to help their families in this way.

The messages are arranged as 10 messages in 10 key health topics: Malaria, Diarrhoea, Nutrition, Coughs, Colds & Pneumonia, Intestinal Worms, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, Immunisation, HIV & Aids, Accidents & Preventing Injuries and Caring for Babies & Young Children. The simple health messages are for parents and health educators to use with children at home and in schools, clubs and clinics.

Our messages on Coughs, Colds & Pneumonia:

  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 can come in and smoke can escape.
  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 cold lasts 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 can’t be killed using medicine.
  5. Lungs are the part of the body that breathes. Coughs and colds make 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 breathing. Watch the chest going up and down. Other signs are fever, sickness and chest pain.
  7. An infant less than 2 months old, breathing 60 breaths a minute or more must go to a health worker FAST! Quick breathing in children 1-5 years old is more than 20-30 breaths per minute.
  8. A good diet (and breastfeeding babies), a smoke-free home and immunisation help to prevent serious illnesses like pneumonia.
  9. Treat a cough or cold by keeping warm, drinking tasty drinks often (like soup and juice), resting and keeping your nose clean.
  10. Stop coughs, colds and other illnesses spreading from one to another. Keep hands and eating and drinking utensils clean, and cough into paper.

These health messages have been reviewed by expert health educators and medical experts and are available on the Health ORB website too.

What can children Make, Do & Ask to better understand this topic?

Here are some ideas for activities children can do to understand more about our February topic and share the messages with others.

  • MAKE our own messages on Coughs, Colds & Pneumonia in our own words and our own language!
  • MEMORISE the messages so we never forget them!
  • SHARE the messages with other children and our families!
  • MAKE a plan of your house. Where is smoky, where is not? Where is safe for young children to play away from smoke?
  • MAKE a poster to encourage parents to take their children for immunisation against dangerous diseases like measles and whooping cough.
  • MAKE up a song about pneumonia and share it with our family and friends!
  • MAKE a Pendulum with a string and stone to help us count when breathing is fast and when breathing is normal and show what we have learnt to our families.
  • MAKE our own play about breastfeeding babies.
  • MAKE a play about keeping cool with a fever and keeping warm with a cold.
  • MAKE a Tippy Tap for home and school to help wash our hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet.
  • LEARN how to wash your hands with soap and water to stop germs spreading and protect yourself against coughs and colds.
  • TEST our knowledge of pneumonia by acting out different scenarios that could be pneumonia or could be a cold.
  • ASK what are the danger signs for pneumonia? Share what we learn with our families.
  • ASK where is smoking banned? Is your school smoke free?
  • ASK what makes us breathe fast? We can measure our breathing to learn to identify fast breathing when someone is in danger from pneumonia.
  • ASK what are new and old ways to treat coughs and colds?
  • ASK how are germs spread? Learn by playing The Handshaking Game.

For more information on the Tippy Tap, the Pendulum, the Handshaking game or
to learn more about our February topic see Coughs, Colds & Pneumonia!
For anything else please contact us or e-mail

An orange circle with a black child wearing a blue shirt, they are coughing.