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Putting global health in perspective

Martin Whittaker on a resource that links geography with PSHE and citizenship

A holiday-maker returns from Rio de Janeiro and is diagnosed as having the horrifically painful dengue fever. In Glasgow two people have died from tuberculosis, and in Delhi truck drivers queue outside a health clinic, worried that they may be HIV positive.

These hard-hitting real-life cases are part of a new resource aimed at encouraging children aged 11 to 14 to think about the increasingly global nature of health issues. Global Health Matters? is a colourful 16-page booklet which explores health issues in 25 countries and is packed with photographs, case studies, activities, facts, figures and website addresses. It talks about what causes and spreads diseases such as malaria, Aids and TB, and looks at the effects of poor health on people's lives and how prevention messages are put across in the Third World. It also examines the risks that HIV and Aids pose to young people in some of the world's poorest regions.

At Clevedon Community School near Bristol, humanities teacher Fay McNamara has been using the resource to discuss the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic with a Year 8 class. She asks students to compare the outbreak with other diseases in the Global Health Matters? booklet, looking at how the movement of transport and population helps them to spread. They also discuss ways of preventing disease, relating it to the children's own vaccinations against diseases such as meningitis or measles, mumps and rubella. The centre pages compare anti-Aids and HIV messages throughout the world, and the giggle-factor increases at a picture of someone dressed as a giant condom in Thailand. "The first time they saw it they were in hysterics," says Fay McNamara.

Tonight's homework for her class is to keep up with the latest on SARS by watching Newsround. She welcomes any new learning resources on development issues and particularly likes the topicality. "This is good because it doesn't need much preparation. You can hand the booklets out - they all have their own copy - and it's bright and cheerful and up-to-date.

"I have used this with Year 8, linking into over-population, and a lot of them came up with ways diseases get spread. I'm very interested in the citizenship side of it all. I think if you are sticking completely to the national curriculum and not bringing citizenship into geography, then you won't find this as useful, but if you're willing to branch out and cover those issues then it's excellent."

Global Health Matters? is produced by the charity Worldaware, which works to raise awareness on international development issues and produces geography, citizenship and sustainable development resources for the curriculum. The booklet was designed to look at global health issues as a way of joining up programmes of study in geography, citizenship and PSHE.

Worldaware director Angus Willson says there has been a deliberate attempt to give the booklet a real-life feel. "So often these things are a bit detached when you're writing for an educational audience. We tried to give it that human face.

"We're trying to move geographers towards looking at human issues, and at the same time moving PSHE and citizenship people into looking at issues with a genuine global context with real people, happening in real places."

Global Health Matters? by Simon Scoones with Catherine Stocker and Angus Willson. Worldaware, pound;30 for 15 or pound;3 each. Tel: 0208 763 2555 Email:

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