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The Malagasy Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational training and the Mérieux Foundation sign an agreement to promote good health practices in schools

January 9, 2020 - Anosy, Antananarivo (Madagascar)

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Her Excellency, Marie Thérèse Volahaingo, Minister of the Malagasy Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training, and Luciana Rakotoarisoa, Manager of the Mérieux Foundation in Madagascar, have signed a partnership agreement for the distribution of health education kits throughout the country’s schools.

Pascal Vincelot, Mérieux Foundation’s Director of Operations, and Luciana Rakotoarisoa, Manager of the Mérieux Foundation in Madagascar presenting the kits to Her Excellency, Marie Thérèse Volahaingo, Minister of the Malagasy Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training.

Pascal Vincelot, Mérieux Foundation’s Director of Operations, and Luciana Rakotoarisoa, Manager of the Mérieux Foundation in Madagascar presenting the kits to Her Excellency, Marie Thérèse Volahaingo, Minister of the Malagasy Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training.

Representatives from the project’s partners, as well as from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), French Embassy of Madagascar and Fitia association participated in the signing ceremony, which took place at the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training. A delegation from the Mérieux Foundation, including Board member Olivia Mérieux, Director of Operations, Pascal Vincelot, and the team from the foundation’s office in Madagascar were also present.

Kits to help learn about health while having fun

These interactive, educational kits are designed so that children and their families can have fun while learning about the simple habits that can protect them from infectious diseases and reduce the risks of infant mortality. They give children an active role and encourage discussion. This is in line with UNICEF’s approach to make children health ambassadors for their families. The kits are available both in French and Malagasy, in paper and digital formats, and are based on new technologies to increase their impact. They include card games, video games, short films, cartoons (motion design, “draw my life”) and are ready-to-use: The trainer’s guide allow teachers and facilitators to assimilate the information autonomously and quizzes boost their knowledge.

The kits cover the major health issues: 

The partners

To develop the kits, the Mérieux Foundation and its office in Madagascar work with a team of Franco-Malagasy experts (doctors, educational specialists, trainers and facilitators). Local associations contribute to the testing and the roll-out of the kits: Graines de bitume, ACCESMAD, Moringa Wave and Tanora Garan’Teen. The scientific content is approved by the Malagasy expert organisations of the relevant ministries: Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training (MENETP), Ministry of Water, Hygiene and Hydrocarbons, Ministry of Youth and Sport, National Nutrition Council. Each new kit is launched at the Charles Mérieux Center for Infectious Disease of Madagascar and the Mérieux Foundation team provides training for the teachers and facilitators in cooperation with the relevant ministries. The development of these kits was funded by Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux with additional support for the WASH kit from Fondation AnBer.

Distribution throughout the whole country

The partnership covers the 22 regions of Madagascar. Initially, the kits will be distributed in the 411 state primary schools in Grand Antananarivo. In the medium and long term, the MENETP intends to provide these kits to all the country’s schools with the support of additional partners.

Take a look at the kits

The project’s origins

The Merieux Foundation began working in Madagascar in 2008 to support deprived mothers and children. It has worked in partnership with NGOs, associations, and religious communities (Akamasoa, Communauté du chemin neuf, Graines de bitume, ENDA, Mivaotra, etc.) to implement programs encouraging handwashing and sessions for parasite-removal. Thousands of bars of soap and anti-parasite tablets have been distributed every year. In 2014, when the doctors in partner organizations shared the very positive effects these interventions were having on children’s health, the Mérieux Foundation decided to increase the development of its health education activities.

It is the local stakeholders and authorities who best know the real needs and expectations of the population.  Before developing the kits, the Mérieux Foundation carried out a needs analysis among school children in rural areas and in underprivileged city neighborhoods. 800 pupils, parents and teachers answered a questionnaire on hygiene, access to water, sanitation and access to healthcare. During the pilot phase, more than 200,000 people benefited from the kits.

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