Agnes Winarti, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Raising children's awareness about dengue fever prevention can be done more effectively through storytelling and by involving them in clean-up campaigns at school and home, those involved in the campaign say.
"I always use storytelling when it comes to explaining what the Aedes aegypti mosquito is, how it carries the virus causing dengue fever and the importance of environmental cleanliness," said TV personality Shahnaz Haque on Tuesday.
"When children are attracted to the story about the mosquito, they will soon be asking more about dengue fever itself," said the spokeswoman for the Baygon Lifelines anti-dengue campaign.
During a campaign stop sponsored by PT Johnson Home Hygiene Products at public elementary school SDN 08 Pagi Rawa Jati, in South Jakarta, the 36-year-old mother of three said, "Children can feel proud when their parents are willing to share with them a little portion of responsibility for household chores."
South Jakarta has seen 9,390 dengue fever with 28 deaths over the last 12 months.
There have been 86 deaths from 31,682 dengue fever cases in Jakarta in the last 12 months.
Shahnaz said some parents were indifferent toward educating their children about dengue fever prevention.
"Only after family members are infected do they show more concern about its prevention."
Eight-year-old student Nabila told The Jakarta Post she heard most about dengue fever on television.
When asked what her parents said about dengue fever, she just shook her head.
Sixth graders Gilang, Ito and Adiv said they had also learned about dengue fever from television, which then led their parents warning them to stop littering and keep their environment clean to help prevent the disease.
But when asked whether they listened, one of them said, "Only sometimes."
The school has a daily program called Regu Comot, during which students pick up trash around the school.
The program, which was started in 2003, is designed to teach students to play an active role in keeping their school environment clean and healthy.
"It's important that teachers also actively encourage students to participate in the program by showing appreciation whenever a student picks up garbage," said Syafaat, one of 12 teachers at the school, which has 317 students.
As part of the Baygon Lifelines anti-dengue campaign, since 2006 members of the public can request free fumigation in any area where dengue fever has occurred by calling a hotline at 0-800-1-BAYGON (0-800-1-229466).
Baygon Lifelines will fumigate the area within three days after the call, after the Jakarta Health Agency has verified the presence of mosquito larvae in the area.