APON appreciates and understands the necessity of a basic health and hygiene education for the children. Many APON students spend the entire day in garbage cans sifting through filth and collecting paper and plastic bags for sale in the market and are susceptible to various respiratory and skin diseases. While considerations of health and hygiene would demand a complete abstention from such activities, the harsh realities of life dictate otherwise. Most children are significant income earners for their family. Not going to work for even a day means not enough food for the family. APON seeks to minimize the inevitable risk that the children are exposed to while working in garbage cans by educating them as to the nature, in particular the toxic efffect of the materials they handle every day.
Drug abuse, particularly glue sniffing is on the rise among working children. Adhesive glue contains toluene, a sweet-smelling and intoxicating hydrocarbon, which dissolves the membrane of the brain cells and causes hallucinations while dampening hunger pangs. Reports of child health workers show that glue-sniffing can cause neurological damage, kidney or liver failure, paralysis and even death. At APON, our teachers regularly emphasise on the importance of leading a healthy life and abstaining from all forms of substance abuse. Most of APON’s activities in this regard are designed towards prevention, rather than cure. Over time, APON expects to be in a position to provide rehabilitation facilities for children who are addicted to drugs and other intoxicants.
In October 2010, APON celebrated Global Handwashing Day with the students of Ramna Campus. More than 14.4 million Bangladeshi children from nearly 73,000 schools joined in this event, pledging to promote hand washing with soap after using the toilet and before eating. This initiative was organized by the Global Public Private Partnership on Hand Washing (PPPHW), which includes soap companies, NGOs, and UN organizations. APON students were educated regarding the importance of washing their hands before and after meals as well as after using the toilets. APON Vice-Chairman emphasized in particular on making ‘handwashing with soap’ a habit, which is the most effective way of preventing respiratory infections and diarrhoeia among children. Further, by bringing about a change in handwashing behaviour among children, APON hopes to contribute towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing deaths among children by two-thirds by 2015. During our regular classes also, our teachers emphasise on the importance of using sanitary latrines and on washing hands before and after meals.
In August 2007, when the APON Disaster Management Team went to Manikganj to distribute relief materials among flood affected victims, a Medical Camp was arranged for the women and children of the area. Inspired by the success of the Medical Camp in Manikganj, APON in collaboration with ‘AIM Foundation’ and ‘FANTASIA’ organised a ‘Free Medical Camp’ for child labourers on 15th November 2009. It was attended by 51 students of APON School (Dhanmondi Branch) and 12 students of APON School (Ramna Branch). The doctors present at the event completed a basic medical check-up of APON’s students and prescribed medicine to the children. Later, the children took part in a survey in order to help us determine the socio-economic position and the problems facing street children every day. The event ended with the distribution of food among APON School students.
Earlier, on 3rd September 2009, at the request of his parents, APON arranged for the circumcision of Amit, a regular student at APON at Barakah Kidney Hospital. The operation was sponsored jointly by APON Foundation and Barakak Kidney Hospital