May 14, 2008, 6:24 AM
More than one hundred teachers and cluster monitors in region five in the Central River Region recently took part in a one-day sensitisation forum on H1N1 pandemic.
Declaring the forum held at the Regional Education conference hall in Janjangbureh officially open, Abdoulie Bondi, senior education officer in region five, emphasised the importance of the forum saying teachers are key stakeholders in the dissemination of relevant information to the grassroots.
According to him, if teachers and cluster monitors are given the required information and skills to disseminate to the local communities, they would make an impact.
He urged the participants to make best use of the forum to harness the required information for proper dissemination to the grassroots through their students.
For his part, Mamadou Labbo Bah, health education officer from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, said the forum was held toequip school teachers and cluster monitors with the knowledge of the H1N1 pandemic, for the participants to pass the information to the grassroots through their students.
The influenza virus is a new disease circulating among humans, he said, adding that the virus is the agent that causes an acute disease of respiratory tract and has the potential to cause a pandemic.
Mr Bah defined epidemic as a situation of more cases of certain diseases than expected, and pandemic as a worldwide disease.
"With the increased global transportation, urbanization and overcrowding in some areas, for instance schools and public places, the epidemic might become a pandemic rapidly" he said.
Alpha Mballow, Regional Nutrition field officer for Central River Region, underscored the importance of the forum, saying teachers are the right channel to the local communities as they are always in close contact with them and can pass the message to them easily.
Mr Mballow also talked about the importance of the four quick wins, namely breast feeding, proper hand-washing, insecticide treated bed net and sugar salt solution.
"Teachers spend more time with the children and can pass relevant information to them and the communities during their bantabas, drama performance among others," he said.
The meeting, supported by the United Nations Children's Fund, the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization and the livestock department, was chaired by Alhagie Jabbie, regional vector control officer.