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encouragement are valuable but they are simply not enough in the fight against diseases.


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18 World Health • 49th Yem, No.4, July-August 1996

Classroom health in Belize

Roman Magana

Words of advice and

encouragement are valuable but they are simply not enough in the fight against diseases.


overty is probably the principal reason for some countries being ravaged by diseases. Belize, lying on the Caribbean coast of Central America, certainly suffers both from a poor economic situation and from widespread disease. At our school -Holy Redeemer Upper School in Belize City-the struggle to keep the children healthy is un- ceasing. We may lack the finance and technology needed to combat all the diseases that threaten our chil- dren, but our weapons of determina- tion, education and cooperation have helped us to make progress in this struggle.

The school has received much help from international organizations like WHO, as well as from local

institutions such as the Health Department. We have been provided with the technical advice and infor- mation needed to equip us for pro- moting health in the classroom.

Occasionally, personnel from these organizations have visited our school to give lessons, stimulate discussion and encourage our children to take simple steps to prevent diseases.

Some of the classrooms have become like little art galleries displaying charts that depict the causes, effects and ways to prevent such illnesses as cholera, AIDS and malaria.

Over the years, we have set aside one day each year for nurses to come to the school to give our children lessons on sex education. We have seen how formerly timid students now want to learn more about them- selves and about the diseases that threaten their lives.

As teachers, we believe that words of advice and encouragement are valuable but they are simply not enough in the fight against diseases.

We do not have a particular time in the curriculum to teach health educa- tion, so this topic is included in the

Through discussions and practical work, children quickly learn haw to promote health in the community.

science lessons. Recently, one class was encouraged to do research on several tropical diseases and to make presentations in class. The results were astounding. The children produced charts and equipment to help them with their presentations.

One student, Giovanni Santos, brought a stethoscope to listen to the heartbeat of his classmates. Sharnir Polanco brought an instrument to test the blood for sugar content, while Jamie Rosado illustrated- with the help of a plastic heart- how cholesterol can be deadly to us.

These are only a few examples of what these children did themselves to acquire knowledge about sickness and good health.

Hygiene is accorded great impor- tance, and our classrooms, our yard and especially our toilets are kept clean and tidy. The cost of maintain- ing the toilets is quite high but the results are satisfactory. Our school has won several first prizes for being the cleanest school in the city, and only last year we won an essay competition on "Keeping Belize City clean and beautiful."

Holy Redeemer Upper School does not have all the resources necessary to provide comprehensive health to our children, but the tools we do have are time, motivation and dedication. Our ultimate goal is to see that our children eat well and have balanced diets. We are aware that a few children lack adequate nourishment; consequently one of our immediate aims is to generate the resources needed to ensure a healthier future for our school- children. •

Mr Raman Magana is an Assistant Teacher at Holy Redeemer Upper School, 14 New Road, Belize City, Belize.


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