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close this bookPopulation and Health (FAO Population Education Leaders Guides)
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentAims/objectives
View the documentBasic concepts
View the documentActivity no. 1 - Basic needs for good health
View the documentActivity no. 2 - Preparing oral rehydration treatment solution
View the documentActivity no. 3 - A visit or visits from a social worker from the ministry of health

Activity no. 3 - A visit or visits from a social worker from the ministry of health

A visit or visits from a social worker from the ministry of health

A presentation by a resource person knowledgeable about common health problems (including STDs and alcohol and drug abuse), their causes and means of control.



  • The group leader makes arrangements in advance for a visit to the youth group by a worker from the Ministry of Health. The leader talks with the health worker and they agree to stress the points listed in the section on background information.
  • The leader explains to the group that the resource person has come to discuss with them the importance of maintaining their health, the causes, symptoms and control of common diseases, and to answer any questions they may have.
  • The social worker makes his or her presentation.


So that group members will be able to:

  • Gain information about why health is important and how they can stay healthy.
  • Learn about the causes, symptoms and control of common diseases.
  • Understand the relationship between common diseases and population pressure.
  • Learn about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), possible means of prevention and cure, and the importance of responsible sexual behaviour.



  • Advance preparation by the group leader.
  • The presentation by the health worker.
  • Interest and attention by group members.

Some background information for the group leader

Some background information for the group leader

Note: Resource persons such as health workers, agricultural extension agents and small business advisors can be used more than once - the same person might be of use several times during the period when these guides are used.

How can the group members obtain information about maintaining their health and avoiding or controlling diseases and sickness?

Information and assistance regarding health and causes and control of common diseases are available from your local Ministry of Health counselor or worker. It might be appropriate for you, the group leader, to invite the local health worker to come and talk to the members of the youth group on this topic. Using a resource person or persons is a good way to make your youth group activities even more interesting and useful to its members. Some subjects such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be very difficult for a group leader to discuss by himself. A technically qualified health worker as a guest speaker can be a great help with such subjects.

Resource persons like this can make your job better and easier too. They cannot replace you as the group leader though - it is you as group leader who knows the group and has their respect. So when a resource person is used, you should still introduce the subject generally, be prepared to take part in the discussions and summarize and close the meeting.

Note: After agreement has been reached on the topics to be discussed, the leader should talk over the presentation with the health worker and make the necessary arrangements.

What are some of the topics that a health worker should stress in a presentation to the youth group?

  • The concept of health.
  • The role of the individual in maintaining personal health.
  • Social and cultural aspects of health and health care in the local community.
  • Factors important for maternal health including mother's age, child spacing, and avoidance of drugs and alcohol.
  • The dangers of drug and alcohol abuse for all.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • The leader should also ask the group to suggest any other topics they would like the health worker to discuss.

What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are diseases which are spread from one person to another through sexual contact. Anybody who has sex with an infected person can become infected with an STD - they don't affect only people who are dirty or who go with prostitutes.

STDs are the most common group of infectious diseases reported in many countries, particularly among young people. They are particularly dangerous because in many cases there are few or no visible symptoms. That means we can catch an STD from someone who doesn't know they have it, and pass it along to someone else.

If left untreated, STDs can have very serious long-term effects on our health, including inability to have children, heart disease, blindness, insanity and even death. Therefore, it is vital for young people to understand how to avoid STDs and to seek treatment immediately if they suspect they may have caught an STD.

A simple test can show very quickly whether or not a person has an infection.

At one time, no cure was known for the two most common STDs, syphilis and gonorrhea, and many people died from them. More recently, however, a cure has been found and people with these STDs can be cured simply and inexpensively if they seek treatment immediately.

Unfortunately, in the past few years, a new STD has appeared. This disease is called AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) and as yet doctors have not found any way to treat it. AIDS is 100 percent fatal; so far, every person who has caught AIDS has died. What makes AIDS even more dangerous is that there are no visible symptoms for a long time after someone is infected - often as long as 5-7 years. In that time, a person may infect other people without knowing it, and all these people will die.

AIDS is becoming more common now. So far the majority of people who have been infected by the AIDS virus show no signs of being ill.

They have been infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) but they have not yet developed the disease. These people will eventually become ill with AIDS but maybe not for several years. Meanwhile anyone with whom they have sex can catch the disease.

What is AIDS?

AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is a virus disease which destroys the body's ability to fight off diseases. This means that a person who has AIDS becomes very ill and can die if they catch any illness such as a common cold or malaria or diarrhœa There are very few symptoms of the AIDS virus itself. Usually people with AIDS eventually become very thin and look generally unwell. They do not die of the AIDS virus itself, but because the body cannot defend itself against many illnesses which the body is normally able to fight off.

There are now some treatments for AIDS which allow people with the disease to go on living for some time and lead a fairly normal life. These treatments are not cures however. They are also expensive and not widely available. As yet there is no cure for the illness and everyone who catches it eventually dies.

Although to start with, the disease was more common among homosexuals and people who used drugs, now many people who are not homosexual and do not use drugs have also caught AIDS.

It is important to remember that there are only three ways that the disease is spread.

  1. By sexual contact with a person who has the AIDS virus.
  2. By exchange of blood or other body fluids between a person with AIDS and another person. (This includes use of needles which an infected person has used for injections.)
  3. An infected woman can also pass on the disease to her infant before, during or shortly after birth.

Exchange of blood or other body fluids

The use of condoms can help prevent infection but the only sure way to avoid catching AIDS or any other sexually transmitted diseases is to avoid having sex with anyone who has the disease.

AIDS CANNOT be spread by normal contact or even kissing a person with the disease. It CANNOT be spread through food or water, sharing cups and plates, sneezing, coughing, insect bites or toilets. So if you know of someone with the disease, there is no need to be afraid of catching AIDS by living and working together with them normally.

The health worker will be able to provide more information to you and the group members on prevention and cure of diseases and on health care generally. As explained at the beginning of this section, you may wish to leave the main part of discussion of health issues to a qualified health worker, but be prepared to join in the discussions. As the group leader, you will also be expected to know where to direct your members for further advice and help.

Booklets in this Leaders Guide Series:

Population and Agriculture
Population, Employment and Income
Population and the Environment
Population and Nutrition
Population and Health
The Family and Family Size
Human Growth and Development
Responsible Parenthood
How the Population Changes
Community Involvement

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Integration of Population Education into Programmes for Rural Youth INT/88/P9