BY Ryan McDougall | October 5 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


School declares war on rabies in Malawi

AN INNOVATIVE scheme masterminded by St Margaret’s High School in Airdrie has been launched to combat Malawi’s rabies crisis.

Representatives from St Margaret’s, which believes it might be the only school in the country working on the cause, met with international charity Mission Rabies, and put together a programme to help eradicate the disease in the Mulanje and Blantyre regions of Malawi.

The Airdrie school is to use its connections with the Mulanje Education Board, the Meldulo’s St Joseph’s Church and Sr Anna Tomassi’s CCC Trust to work on ways of ridding the country of rabies.

In just one week, the school raised £250 for World Rabies Day, which will pay for the vaccination of 100 dogs, helping to limit the spread of the illness, which can be fatal.

The group will work with the Church in Malawi to raise awareness of rabies and educate people on how to avoid contracting the disease.

The St Margaret’s S1 pupils undertaking the project are led by senior S6 students, who visited Malawi last year.

St Margaret’s headteacher Mr Stephen Snee said: “Our pupils have really taken the lead on this project and are passionate about carrying education into Malawi.

“In the past, our community has provided educational material and resources to schools in the Mulanje region and prisons as far as Zomba, but this takes it in a whole new direction.

“The experience of the pupils who have already visited the country has really helped paint a picture for the group and focused their energy on the tasks ahead.”

Local politicians have taken a keen interest in the young pupils’ hard work, including North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim Logue, who celebrated the official launch of the group on this year’s World Rabies Day.

He said: “Having visited Malawi on several occasions, particularly in the rural areas, I have witnessed groups of dogs in close proximity to young children. The children are totally unaware of the dangers they face.

“I have also known of rabies cases in the hospitals I have visited. It is tragic that people are still dying from this wholly preventable disease.

“I was more than happy to launch this group and delighted that St Margaret’s have raised funds in just one week to vaccinate 100 dogs.

“I have encouraged the pupils to cascade their work to the school’s feeder primaries to raise awareness of the work they are doing.

“I am also fully supporting their idea to work through the parishes and Sr Anna in Malawi, as this will greatly increase the number of people they reach.”

In 2012, it emerged that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, had the highest number of child rabies deaths in southern Africa.

Following the report, Mission Rabies was born, managing to vaccinate 35,000 dogs in just 20 days.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “Mission Rabies would like to thank St Margaret’s High School for their donation and ongoing support of their work in Malawi.”


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