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School's head lice problem
28 February, 2005

Kota Marudu: Some 30 percent of the 264 pupils at SK Gana, 38 kilometres from here, have been having lice in their hair over the last few years, and there is nothing much the school authorities could do to rectify the situation.

Teacher Jansah Labutan, acting as a spokesman in the absence of headmaster Junick Umboh, said almost all the Year One and Two pupils had lice in their hair due to lack of awareness on the importance of personal hygiene.

Some of the pupils in the other classes were also infected, probably from their own home environment, he added. Despite efforts by the teaching staff to overcome the problem, he claimed that the school's parent-teacher association did not seem to bother to cooperate.

He noted that three pupils had their heads shaved bald last year to rid themselves of the lice, but the problem and persisted this year.

According to Jansah, 80 per cent of the parents and guardians aged 31 years and above are illiterate, and some had not bothered to bathe for up three days, the least.

Abject poverty was the main contributing factor to the problem, and the people in the area could not afford the "luxury" of using soap and shampoo, apart from salt and other food seasoning, as well as salt fish.

Naturally, they would turn to the dukun or bomoh (traditional medicine men) who ordered them not to bathe for at least seven days while under "treatment".

Despite concerned efforts by the school with the cooperation of the government clinic in the area to eliminate the lice, the problem still persists.

The situation is further aggravated with the lack of electricity supply when its two power generators broke down last month.

The school's 13 teachers are forced to put up temporary accommodation at a kongsi, while their pupils had to walk for long distance to their homes due to absence of a hostel.

A brief visit to the community kindergarten set up by Paccos Trust showed teachers Saimon Kutin Ayanin Masiah admitting that several of the pre-schoolers also have lice in their hair, but not as much as those in the primary school.

Kampung Gana was set up by the Government in 1999 under a resettlement scheme, involving 10 kampungs each with it own village headman and JKKK chairman.

The area has a total population of 3,500 people from 450 families, who have been subjected to moderate weather during the day and extreme cold at night.

It would need a four-wheel drive vehicle to reach Kampung Gana through a gravel track set up by a logging company.

However, the residents claimed that the road leading to the kampungs, gravity water pipes, electricity and public facilities were in dire need of repairs.

Copyright © Daily Express, Sabah, Malaysia


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