The 100 Health Messages | Video Series

The 100 Health Messages for Children to Learn & Share!

Here is a video in which our director, Clare Hanbury talks about The Children for Health 100 health messages. We have created a poster which visualises the spirit of the 100 on the front and sets out all 100 health messages on the back. If you would like the poster then visit our Free Resources area to download – you can also get the booklet. Have a look at our other videos on our Children for Health YouTube Channel.


What we’re looking at here is The Children for Health poster, 100 messages for Children to Learn and Share. And this is the origin of Children for Health –  where we started. The idea was to provide teachers and programme managers with 100 pieces of information that all children everywhere should learn about health.

Now I know that children in different countries might need to know about different topics, but as our starting point, we took what we thought to are 10 extremely important health topics, and we gathered this just not from our own minds or experience, but from looking at the literature, the academic literature, and from some of the health education literature around, and also looking at what schools themselves consider to be important and what’s in their curriculum.

You can see at the centre of this poster is the mobile phone. The original idea of Children for Health was to deliver its content on the mobile phone, and it still is the idea of Children for Health, but it’s one of the many ways in which we distribute our content, or seek to distribute our content. As you can see, there are 10 different topics coming out of the centre of that mobile phone, and at the end of each of those topics there is a child who is taking action. For example, 10 messages on Malaria. You can see it’s set up as a ribbon, and  at the end of the ribbon, the child  is tucking their younger sibling into bed underneath a bed net, a role very many older children will be doing all over the world.

So you can see at the back, there’s this idea of the globe, and this is really to suggest that Children for Health is an approach that can be used anywhere with any health education programme. There are also these three little scenes at the back. Our programme partners are supporters and academic partners too. The programme partners are partners such as Save the Children or UNICEF. Save the Children, for example, uses Children for Health as a technical advisor in their programmes in Nigeria and India. We adapt messages and other content, and we incorporate the adapted messages and adapted content into their programmes.

And then we have our supporters. Now our supporters, obviously, also are our allies, such as Save the Children and the others. They support our work by using us, and using our content and activities, but there are also others who have come in to support us, notably ARM, the technology company based in Cambridge. And they have helped to seed fund the charity, and you can see that they’ve also supported the development of this important poster for us too.

And then we have our academic partners. We’re very keen on building our work into academic research projects, so that the ideas are being tested and the processes that we’re using are being well understood, and that we can produce a kind of evidence base, which is very important in global health programmes. We need to be able to say, not just “Oh, this is a really good idea”, but, “The proven impact of this is X, Y and Z”.

Now there have been some small case studies, but at the moment we’re really needing some gold standard research on children’s participation in health, and we’re all the time in discussions with academic partners, linked to our programmes but also independently of our programmes.

So you can also see, flying up in the right hand side, two scarlet macaws, and these are our mascots, if you like, and they’re real puppets, and we call them ZaZa and ZuZu, and they are becoming very well-known in parts of the world where we are working. Often our partners buy the puppets, and the pair of puppets go into schools and the children recognise these puppets as being helpers and guides for their work in health education.

ZuZu, we like to think of ZuZu as being an older brother, someone who is about 10 years old, who’s taking care of his siblings, and ZaZa is a slightly annoying mischievous younger sister. And those are the kind of personas that we’ve given to ZaZa and ZuZu, but obviously wherever they’re used, their names can be changed and they can be used in different ways by the children. But that’s why you’ve got a pair of flying macaws on this poster.

On the back of the poster, we’ve got all 100 of our health messages. You can see there are 10 messages for each of our 10 topics, making 100 messages. So here we’ve got two topics, diarrhoea and malaria, and I’d like just to explain a little bit about how we come up with these messages, because it’s not just one person sitting and writing the messages. It’s actually a process, each set of 10 has taken about three or four months to develop. And what we do is read the best science that is linked to that particular health topic at the moment. We read the papers and we read health education manuals that are also suitable for children, and then we also fall back on our own experience in developing materials for this age group of children, between about the ages of 10 and 14.

We want to come up with messages that are simple enough for them to understand, but also messages which maybe will challenge them a bit with some of the words. You don’t always have to be giving children words that they already know. You can teach them new words, so some of these words might be new to the children and they love that. They love being challenged by new words. We don’t shy away from words that might be new to the children.

So we collect, we read the science. We then maybe short list about 20 messages, something like that. Then we put them into the HIFA forum. This forum has about 16,000 individuals and organisations as members of this forum. I write a little post about the messages and ask for help from these medics all around the world to look at the messages and to give me their feedback, prioritising the messages, re-phrasing the messages and making sure those messages are as accurate as they can be. I often get between about 5 and 15 responses to those messages, often from top experts, for example top malaria experts, and I then use that feedback to create a short list of, again, about… between about 11 and 15 messages, put those back. And so you can see it’s a kind of a to and fro, and then come up with a short list of 10, test those once again, and then usually send those to a teacher or an educator that I know in one of these developing countries who may be one of the users of these messages once they’re published. And then they give me their final feedback, maybe tweaking a message here and there.

But this is also where being a digital resource comes in because let’s say something changes and there’s new information about malaria that we feel should trickle down to the 10 to 14-year-old age group. We don’t have too many resources that are printed, so we can just change the message or tweak the message to incorporate the new findings and the new science, and then those new messages become the new set of Children for Health messages in malaria, diarrhoea,  nutrition or whatever. So we feel that that’s a pretty good way of making sure that our messages are valid and useful messages.

We do also have the messages that are going up on forums, such as the ORB Platform, which is a resource for health workers, and our messages had to go through review of people who really know their stuff, and so we were very pleased when our messages got accepted by that platform. It gave us the sense that, yes, these really are messages that are going to be useful for people, and that are valid.