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2007.05.03
* Schoolchildren gain education to help halt spread of avian influenza * 04 Apr 2007 Raising poultry is the main source of income for many here in Koda, a village located in the European country of Georgia. With this profession comes the danger of avian influenza, the highly contagious disease that is harmful to both poultry and humans. With the support of UNICEF, the Ministry of Education in Koda set up a two day campaign titled “What we have to know to prevent avian influenza.” The campaign organized lessons in schools throughout the country and gave information packages, calendars and posters to teachers and students. SOUNDBITE (Georgian) Lia Dalakishvili Teacher: “I welcome this program because I think children should be prepared and because Georgia is on the path of migrating birds. I think it’s especially important for children in rural areas because they are more in contact with poultry” The lessons learned were not just for children. Parents were invited to sit in on an informational conference about avian flu. Here students took the lead, sharing their own newfound knowledge with their parents. Campaign organizers had placed particular emphasis on educating children as a way to spread awareness. SOUNBITE (English) Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Georgia: “Children are the best channels of information because with the information that they get from the school with the communication materials that we are also providing and disseminating they are going back to their families and conveying of course, all of these messages.” Prior to starting the campaign, a UNICEF study found that only 5.5 percent of children ages 6 to 11 and just 9.1 percent of children aged 12 to 16 washed their hands after touching poultry. Startling figures that could translate into an increased risk of spreading avian flu. SOUNBITE (Georgian) Mari Bajiashvili, Student: “I learned if you want to enter the coop, we should have gloves on and we should cover our mouths with masks so that we don’t get infected by the flu and when we return home, we should wash our hands and we shouldn’t eat without washing out our hands.” Now, armed with the knowledge necessary to protect themselves and their families against avian influenza, each of these children are one step further away from the deadly virus.
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