Ethiopia: Refugees learn about prevention of communicable diseases
28 October 2009

A Somali refugee woman and her child reside in Addis Ababa, where many refugees are vulnerable to communicable diseases. (Angelika Mendes/JRS)
“I did not go to school in my home country and never learned about the different types of communicable diseases... during these two days I learned a lot that I didn’t know before."
Addis Ababa, 28, October 2009 Twenty-five refugees from Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) living in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa recently had the opportunity to learn about the prevention of communicable diseases in a two day workshop organised by JRS.

The workshop, which took place from October 28-29, touched upon various health-related issues such as the importance of personal hygiene, the prevention of communicable diseases, a healthy diet and the right use of medication.

During the first day of training, participants were introduced to the various types of communicable diseases such as TB, influenza, specific skin diseases, typhoid, amoeba and how they are transmitted. The facilitator, Mr. Tesfaye Gedu from the Medical Missionaries of Mary, pointed out that living conditions for refugees, who sometimes share a single room with seven or eight people, are conducive for the transmission of these diseases.

He then stressed the importance of personal and environmental hygiene, a healthy diet and a balanced life. “To simply wash your hands with soap kills bacteria and prevents 80 percent of communicable diseases,” he said. But vaccinations also play an important role, as well as exclusive breast feeding for babies who are younger than six months.

Sharing knowledge in the community

The second day of the workshop focused on environmental sanitation. After giving a general definition Mr. Gedu introduced participants to diseases linked to the environment, such as excreta born, soil born and water born diseases. He further explained how soil, water, and, in turn, food can become contaminated and highlighted the importance of proper waste management. Finally, he explained the different kinds of food and ways how to safely prepare and consume it.

At the end of the workshop, Ms. Hanna Petros, Project Director of the JRS Emergency Needs Programme where the workshop had taken place, thanked the Mr. Gedu and the translator as well as the participants for actively taking part. It turned out that participants found the workshop very useful. “I did not go to school in my home country and never learned about the different types of communicable diseases,” one participant said. “During these two days I learned a lot that I didn’t’ know before,” she added. Participants promised to apply the lessons learnt in their families and communities.







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