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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Prevention through Awareness

There are certain things that we associate with the summer season. For people living in colder areas there is the promise of warm, lazy days; for people who live in a warm climate it means that their days will only get warmer and longer. In Pakistan we have come to associate newer and less pleasant things of late: the monsoon rains that will flood fields of farmers and drive people from their homes, and the return of the dreaded dengue fever. 

Each dengue epidemic in Pakistan has been worse than the previous one: more than 300 people lost their lives to the dengue virus and more than 14,000 were affected by it in 2011. A group of young people fresh out of an Active Citizens training teamed together to launch a dengue awareness campaign targeted at young people and children in Lahore.

The first part of the project was rolled out at the Punjab University Laboratory school in April this year. Group members briefed the students on the dengue virus, its symptoms, how it can be transmitted, and what precautionary measures to use. The students were also added to the discussion their knowledge on the subject, and stories and jokes. At the conclusion of the activity flyers were distributed among the students who were encouraged to spread the awareness on the deadly disease.
In May the group held an awareness campaign at the Pakistan Society for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (PSRD). Along with information about the virus and precautionary measures, a drawing competition was also arranged for children at the rehabilitation centre. Children enrolled in therapy sessions at the centre also participated with quotes, stories, and songs.

The efforts of the group did not stop here; they held similar interactive awareness sessions at Nasheman and Dar-ul-Mussarat – both institutes for people living with mental and physical disabilities. At both institutes they were welcomed with enthusiasm. Says one group member: “we went to make these children aware of how to save a life, but (instead) we learnt from them that how to live a life”.

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