Dengue is worrying. The results of our recent U-Report poll don’t give us any less reason to be concerned: 49 per cent of 725 U-Reporters who replied did not know the symptoms!
Their answers and suggestions provided to the Ministry of Health, on whose behalf the poll was conducted, revealed gaps in the response to be filled. As one U-Reporter remarked that as a member of the deaf community, he must 'assume what is happening'. This makes you wonder what would be said for members of other disabled communities, such as the blind.
U-Reporters identify solutions to fill gaps
Another U-Reporter lamented that she had not known about the outbreak because she did not listen to the radio or watch TV. As reported in the Gleaner article, Use Social Media…Youth Offer Suggestions To Fight Dengue, 39 per cent responded that the best way to reach them is via social media.
Others suggested that the ministry go into schools and even appoint youth ambassadors to spread awareness. U-Reporters recommended that the government team up with youths in an national competition or project in which they are charged with finding strategies to mitigate the dengue outbreak.
What’s really positive from the many suggestions received is that there are many youth in Jamaica, including the over 4,200 U-Reporters islandwide, who not only have a social conscience, but are prepared to act on it!
U-Report created a special dengue bot
Hearing what young people had to say, U-Report has since created a special messaging bot to give you info about symptoms, prevention and treatment. All you have to do is message us the following world to get it: MOSQUITO
It is clear from what U-Reporters are saying that the response to dengue and all mosquito-borne viruses must start in advance. As one person noted, this means “issuing information throughout the year, as opposed to waiting on an outbreak to disseminate information.”
Empowered by mobile and social tech such as U-Report, there has never been a better time to listen to the voices of our young people and collaborate with them to develop solutions to our national challenges.
Danielle Mullings is a member of UNICEF’s U-Report Youth Council