A study from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows how climate change can spread vector-borne diseases like malaria. Climate change causes 6 percent of global malaria cases and many communities in Asia and Africa will suffer from new disease outbreaks. In the Philippines, flooding caused by excessive rainfall and typhoons have spurred rising incidences of dengue and leptospirosis.
Since 2012, leading environmental solutions-provider World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) and top Filipino pharmaceutical company Pascual Laboratories, Inc. (PascualLab) through the company’s SEED (Sowing to Empower, Educate and Develop) CSR initiative, have been instilling climate change and health solutions through a revitalized education program headed by WWF’s Environmental Education (EE) unit. The program has taught over 6400 students, engaged 1405 parents, trained 32 teachers and covered 10 schools.
Kalakasan, Kalikasan is a multiyear EE program that establishes the link between climate change and wellness, highlighting simple ways for Filipinos to protect their health while minimizing their ecological impacts.
“Many diseases stem from changing weather patterns,” explains WWF EE Unit Head Ruel Bate. “Strong rains can turn ditches into stagnant pools, which can be prime breeding spots for mosquitoes that carry viruses like dengue. Identifying practical solutions to these problems – like clearing areas in our homes, which can become breeding grounds for insects or ridding our homes of anything that can gather stagnant water – are effective climate adaptation measures. Our aim is simple – to promote better health through a healthy environment.”
A typical session involves teaching students about the importance of washing their hands to prevent the transfer of diseases. The activities also instill the importance of physical exercise like playing outdoors; eating nutritious food and supplementing these with vitamins; and drinking eight glasses of water daily. The beneficiaries learn about ridding houses against possible pests and disease-causing insects, the impacts of climate change on the environment and on human health; and utilizing organic, herbal medicine as a solution to illnesses such as cough.
The program started as a means of educating students and quickly expanded to teaching households. From 2015 to 2016, the program was further enhanced – replacing old multimedia materials with new visual aids. Sessions are now conducted in classrooms where PascualLab employee-volunteers take on a bigger role in helping to teach the kids. Says PascualLab Corporate Communications Director Mia Pascual Cenzon, “PascualLab’s mission is to provide the most family-friendly health and wellness products in every community where we are present. As we aim to build strong, healthy families, we think that one of the ways we can achieve this is by caring for our environment. We share WWF’s belief that there is a direct relation to the state of every Filipino’s health, and the way we treat our Earth. Not only do we want to be part of the solution through our products, but we also want to take our work a step further and take an active part in educating others about climate change and its effects on health.”
“I want to believe that our efforts in Kalakasan, Kalikasan helped children understand how our small actions greatly affect nature. I hope that one day, the example of at least one of our students will also be mirrored by his or her family, creating new stewards of nature,” adds Rea Calingasan, one of PascualLab’s employee-volunteers.
Phase one of Kalakasan, Kalikasan was completed in 2012 in which two schools were reached: Krus na Ligas Elementary School and Esteban Abada Elementary School. It covered 955 elementary students and parents plus a dozen teachers.
In 2013, the program’s second phase reached four public elementary schools – Esteban Abada, Batasan Hills, Old Balara, and Kamuning. It taught 1805 students and trained 20 teachers.
The third phase in 2014 covered 1285 student and three schools – Esteban Abada Elementary School, Sto. Cristo Elementary School and Old Balara Elementary School.
The recently concluded fourth phase retained two elementary schools – Sto. Cristo and Kamuning, while adding two more – Tomas Morato Elementary School and General Roxas Elementary School. This latest phase covered over 2000 students and was passionately facilitated by employee-volunteers, showing the continuing impactful partnership between WWF-Philippines and PascualLab.
Concludes Bate, “It’s very important for schools and households to be educated about environmental and health solutions. It’s also crucial for students, parents and teachers to be reminded that small lifestyle changes will benefit not just the planet – but ourselves.”
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