|Population and Health (FAO Population Education Leaders Guides)|
Before using this guide, please read the notes in the introduction booklet.
All of the material in this module has been carefully thought out and tested with youth groups in a number of countries. It contains material which is thought to be important and appropriate for young people to know. However, because every group is different, it is not possible to produce a booklet which is perfect for everyone, so it is important to remember that this booklet is intended as a guide for the leader.
This means that it is up to you the leader to use this material as you see fit You may wish to adapt some of the group activities to make them more appropriate to your group.
Some of the material you may not wish to present yourself - perhaps because you do not feel technically competent or because you find it embarrassing or awkward to discuss certain matters with the youth group. In these cases you may wish to ask a local expert in that subject to address your youth group. For example, an agricultural extension officer for the agriculture projects, a small business advisor for income generating activities or a health worker for the health and nutrition aspects. Use of a resource person like this does not make your role as the group leader any less important, but they can add interest and authority to the subjects taught.
The modules may be used in any order, but the modules with the same colour cover are best used together since they cover one general area
First edition was published and field tested in 1988 and 1989 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Project INT/88/P98 "Integration of Population Education into Programmes for Rural Youth in Low-Income Countries" with funding from the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).
This revision was published in 1990 and is based on field test findings from the first edition.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official view of FAO. The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
Original Concept and Text: W.I. Lindley & S.A. Dembner
This Revision: J.F. Cook
Original Illustrations: Teresa Cedeño
This Revision: Pandora Money
By participating in the activities of this module, it is intended
that rural youth will:
A group discussion accompanied by the use of flash cards to promote understanding of the negative impact of rapid population growth on the basic factors necessary for good health.
FOR WHAT? / WHY?
So that group members will be able to:
Some background information for the group leader
What do we mean by good health?
By good health we mean the set of conditions necessary for our
bodies and minds to function efficiently. Some important things in maintaining
good health are:
Nutrition. Rapid population growth can result in a decrease in quantity and quality of food per person. This can cause malnutrition and a decrease in resistance to disease. (See the module on Population and Nutrition for more information.)
Clean and safe drinking water. Clean water for household use is a basic requirement for good health. In many areas, there is not enough safe water. Rapid increases in population may force people to use unsafe water supplies such as polluted rivers and stagnant ponds. This leads to increases in infectious diseases, diarrha and dysentery, and also to water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis (bilharzia).
Clean and safe drinking water
Rest and sleep. In large families, the workload for the mother and father increases and they often have too little time to rest. This can make their bodies weak and they can easily become sick. This is an especially difficult problem for women with large, young families.
Note: You may wish to consider a soap-making project as a group income-generating activity.
Good sanitation. Good waste disposal facilities are a key to disease control. When the population in a village or community increases too rapidly, it can overburden sanitation facilities. When this happens, waste is often dumped into rivers or streams, creating a major health hazard.
Personal hygiene. Keeping our bodies and clothes clean helps to prevent the spread of disease. In many areas, soap and clean water are limited and rapid increases in population may mean that people, especially children, are inadequately washed and clothed.
Immunization against diseases. Certain diseases which once killed large numbers of people - polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, tuberculosis, measles, German measles - can now be prevented by vaccination. The World Health Organization (WHO) has protected millions of people from these diseases and some, for example, smallpox, have been completely eliminated. But rapid increases in population are making it difficult if not impossible to reach everyone with the necessary vaccinations.
Adequate provision and use of health and medical facilities. As the population increases, more and more people need health services. Thus, either more and more people have to share the existing services, in which case the quality of service declines; or health services have to he increased, i.e., more doctors, more nurses and more hospitals and health facilities. But there are two problems: first, it takes time to train doctors or build hospitals; second, it costs money.
In many countries, government money for health care is limited and so health facilities cannot keep up with population growth. Therefore, a rapid increase in the number of people may mean an increase in the number of people without access to adequate health care.
Adequate housing. When a family increases in size, the size of the house cannot always be increased. In fact, what usually happens is that more people share a room, or a bed or even sleep on the floor. These crowded conditions are had for both physical and mental health.
Food hygiene. Proper preparation of food is important in maintaining health, especially among children. When the population increases rapidly, wood and other fuels for cooking often become limited in supply. As a result, food may be poorly cooked and disease may easily be spread. Unclean food is a major cause of dysentery, one of the biggest killers of young children.
Control of pests (rodents, mosquitoes, flies). The increased waste produced by rapidly growing populations creates excellent breeding grounds for disease-carrying pests. The control of these pests requires increased care and expenditure, but in many cases the necessary resources are not available.
Control of environmental and industrial pollution. As populations increase, there is a need for increased industrial production - more mining, more factories, more vehicles, etc. Unfortunately, in many areas around the world (not only in the developing countries) industry is being developed without proper thought for the environment. The result can he pollution of the basic natural resources we need to survive - air, water, agriculturally productive land, etc. This is discussed in more detail in the module on Population and Environment.
Control of environmental and industrial pollution
Accident prevention (in the home, at work, on the roads, etc.). In the home, large families tend to he overcrowded and the parents are usually overworked and tired. Under these conditions, accidents are common. A worker with a large family who is tired or badly nourished is much more likely to have accidents on the job or at home. Rapid increases in population lead to more traffic on streets and roads. Lorries and buses meant for only a few people, or not for transport of people at all, are often badly overcrowded and accidents are frequent.
Who is responsible for the health of the people?
People sometimes think that health is a service that should be provided by the government or the community. But it is important to understand that everyone has a personal responsibility for his or her own health, as well as that of the community.
It is up to each one of us as an individual to take care of our own health - to ensure that we consider each of the basic needs for good health on the preceding pages. In addition, we each have a responsibility to be certain that what we do does not damage the health of others.
For example, we need to be sure that the way we dispose of waste
does not create a breeding ground for pests and diseases which can affect our
neighbours. The effect of family size decisions on the rest of the community
should also be considered. For example, what effect will a large family have on
the ability of the community to provide good health and immunization services
A group activity to stress the potential of oral rehydrations therapy in saving the lives of infants affected by diarrha
FOR WHAT? / WHY?
So that the group members will be able to:
Some background information for the group leader
Is diarrha a serious health problem for babies?
In Africa, infections are very common among babies. When a baby gets an intestinal infection, it often gets diarrha When a baby has diarrha it loses a lot of body fluids and can become dehydrated. This dehydration is very serious and can cause death if not treated quickly and properly. In fact, more babies die from diarrha-related dehydration than from the infections that are the cause of the diarrha
What are the signs of diarrha-related dehydration? diarrha means that the baby defecates very often and its faeces are very watery. This loss of body fluids results in the baby's eyes looking as if they are very far hack in its head and even if the baby cries it often sheds no tears. In addition, the baby's head can begin to look wrinkled or shriveled.
What can be done to help dehydrated babies?
There is a special liquid which can easily be prepared and given to the baby to drink. This is called oral rehydration treatment (ORT) solution.
Clean safe. Drinking water
To make oral rehydrations solution, you need to mix four large spoonfuls of sugar and one small spoonful of salt in one litre of boiled, clean water. (Packages of the right mix of salt and sugar can also be obtained at local stores or health clinics.)
Once the liquid has cooled, it should be given to the baby to drink by spoonfuls every half hour. The amount of liquid depends on the age of the baby.
If the baby is less than one year old, it should be given 10
spoonfuls every half hour. If the baby is between one and three years old, 15
spoonfuls every half hour. Between three and five years old, 20 spoonfuls every
Sarah and Harry
The story to start off the activity
One day, Sarah and her brother Harry went to visit their Aunt Jane, but when they got to her house they could hear their aunt crying. "Maybe we should come back another time," said Harry but Sarah said they should go in to see what was wrong. "Just like a girl to stick her nose in other people's business," said Harry, but he followed his sister into the house.
"What's the matter Aunt Jane?" asked Sarah. Between sobs her aunt said, "It's the baby. She's sick and has diarrha Already this morning, I've had to clean her five times." Calmly, Sarah looked at her baby cousin. She noticed that the baby had sunken eyes and although she was crying, there were no tears on her face. Sarah also thought that the baby's head didn't look exactly right.
"Aunt Jane," said Sarah, "the baby is losing body fluids because of the diarrha and it's very important that we take care of her at once."
"But what can we do?," wailed Aunt Jane. 'The hospital is so far away and I have no money."
"What we need to do is to prepare a special liquid to give the baby to drink," said Sarah. "It's called oral rehydration treatment (ORT) solution.
Then Sarah turned to her brother and said, "Harry, get a bottle, some salt, some sugar and a clean spoon."
"Just like a girl to think she can boss everybody around," said Harry, but he went to fetch the things his sister needed.
Sarah put some clean water in a pot to boil and at the same time she explained to her aunt what they were going to do.
"We need to mix four large spoonfuls of sugar and one small spoonful of salt with one litre of hot, clean water. Then, when the mixture is cool, you should give the baby 10-20 spoonfuls to drink every half hour. This will help the baby rebuild her body fluids. This is very important because if a baby becomes very dehydrated it can even die."
Aunt Mary did as Sarah had told her and in a few days, the baby got over her infection and was just fine when Sarah and Harry came by to visit.
"Well, I guess you did know something after all," said Harry.
"Just like a girl," said Sarah.
A presentation by a resource person knowledgeable about common health problems (including STDs and alcohol and drug abuse), their causes and means of control.
FOR WHAT? / WHY?
So that group members will be able to:
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?
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 diarrha 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.
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
How the Population Changes
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations