Health Education in Kyrgyzstan

It’s likely that I’ll do all kinds of work including teaching English, organizing camps and clubs, and conducting trainings during my time in Kyrgyzstan, but the main focus of my work will be with the Peace Corps’ Health Education Project and, more specifically, promoting the Health Education Project’s Goal 1:

Community members improving their water and sanitation to reduce Hepatitis A and diarrheal diseases and improve environmental health.

Below is an excerpt from the Project’s stated rationale for seeking to achieve Goal 1.

“Kyrgyzstan faces increasingly high rates of Hepatitis A, particularly among school-aged children.  In some cases, schools can see a 50% absence rate related to Hepatitis A infection, largely due to poorly maintained latrines, lack of clean water, and improper or absent hand washing practices.  Coupled with limited access to treatments for Hepatitis A and other diarrheal diseases, young people in Kyrgyzstan can face long-term liver damage, continued absences from school and educational opportunities, and risk further spreading the disease.

Water and sanitation both are complicated by the changes in weather and availability of water.  In the summer, water may not be available – either due to the complex politics of water in Central Asia or the poorly maintained water systems reaching villages and small cities throughout Kyrgyzstan, or due to consistently freezing temperatures, making access to clean water scarce or difficult in winter[…] Up to half of the population in developing countries is comprised of school-aged children.  By underscoring the importance of and providing safe water, sanitation and hand-washing facilities, as well as teaching about hygiene and disease transmission, schools play a crucial role in preventing the spread of infectious diseases, including diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, intestinal worms, scabies and diseases that have a fecal-oral transmission pathway.”

While that might be a little dry and long winded, it is what I hope to be addressing in the near future.  Granted, I only expect to make a teeny dent in a massive problem, but I will be more than satisfied with that teeny dent should I actually make it.


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About Cole Bedford