Defending Against Dengue

E2E students are banding together to stop dengue outbreaks and educate their neighbors on the best way to prevent the growth of the blood-sucking insect.

High fever, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting — the debilitating symptoms associated with dengue.

Unfortunately an all too common experience in rural communities who live near muddy areas that collect puddles of rainwater or the widespread use of “pilas” or open water tanks used to wash dishes and clothes. Mosquitoes have a variety of sources to choose for their breeding grounds. Loss of work days and missed days from school add up to increase the burden of low-income rural families. In three out of five schools surveyed, students listed dengue in the top 4 problems afflicting their community.

In Germania, Trojes E2E students lead a dengue prevention campaign going door to door to provide advice on safeguarding water sources.

What are students doing about it?

During the rainy season, the most susceptible time of the year for families to contract dengue, students break off into teams to visit (and revisit) their neighbors.

They came here and taught me that I needed to be more careful about letting the spout leak because that was causing too much waste and creating puddles for the mosquitos, so now I attached a hose. I see my daughter in one of the groups that is helping people and it makes me proud .

While community health workers do not represent a new fixture in rural communities, a group of adolescents with this type of knowledge is typically never seen. It is usually a small handful of elder adults in the community who are given this role but a surge in expressed interest by young people to learn these skills has grown with the opening of secondary school. This is another example of how E2E is committed to empowering our students to play a more active role in improving the health outcomes of their community.

The campaign against dengue is only the starting point for E2E students in the health sector. With collaboration among professionals in the medical field within Honduras and medical supply donors, we continue to advance students’ knowledge to include first aid and simple detection of minor illnesses for referrals to the nearest health clinic or hospital.

Only one of the communities where E2E runs education programs has a physical health center, although it functions moderately with only one nurse on site and frequent shortages of medications. The majority of communities will perhaps have an elected midwife and a small number of guardianas de salud or community health workers who are often 40+ years old and above.

Health is in an area of incredible opportunity for young educated leaders to make a contribution to the well-being and longevity of their neighbors. For agricultural workers, which comprise 100% of the parent population, diminished health can quickly unfold into an economic crisis that leaves the family in desperate times for the remainder of the year if crops were not regularly maintained.

It is undeniable that health and education go hand in hand — an increase in one will inevitably cause a positive increase in the other. We believe education can thrive even more in places where young people are informed of how to keep themselves and their families healthy. It starts with providing them with the knowledge and training to confidently begin.

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