Rabies education through early childhood intervention

Available data shows that children are the most vulnerable to rabies. It is expected that education at an early age would promote knowledge retention on rabies prevention, resulting in instilled practices on animal bite prevention and responsible pet ownership.

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Using the big storybook for storytelling on bite prevention and management. Photo GARC.

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) was conducted among selected day care centers in the Province of Ilocos Norte and in the City of Sorsogon, in the Philippines. This was a novel undertaking to strengthen rabies education for daycare school children (ages 3-5 years old). The children are taught how to properly interact with dogs to avoid being bitten and what to do if they are bitten. They are also encouraged to immediately tell their parents when they are bitten.

The program is composed of four sessions (about 1 month of implementation) focusing on the following: 1) Caring for pets; 2) Dog bite prevention; 3) What to do when bitten (bite management); and 4) Rabies prevention. Various educational media-based learning tools such as storytelling through big books, role playing, puppet shows, board games, and interactive games are utilized to engage the children in an interactive and fun way.

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Children demonstrate wound washing as part of proper bite management activity. Photo GARC.

. Parents or guardians of the children are also convened into a group for a brief lecture on rabies. They are also reminded not to scold their children if bitten by a dog. Instead, they should carry out the proper first aid treatment and then immediately go to the nearest health facility. Practitioners from the local government’s health and veterinary offices are sometimes also invited to serve as lecturers. Based on the initial assessment, the program increased the children’s knowledge on bite prevention and management after the implementation of the program.

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Parents attending a lecture on rabies awareness and prevention. Photo GARC.

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Version 4 - last updated May 2017