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International health hazards

Inspect infections and highlight hazards as we take a look at some global threats to our health.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Scrap paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Access to the internet
  • Access to a computer

Before you begin

International health issues don’t just include infectious diseases. Things like mental health and health complications due to air pollution count too. Major diseases to think about include malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. With more people travelling to other countries and living in crowded cities, it’s easier for germs to spread and for infectious diseases that start in one part of the world to quickly reach another. Resistance to medicines like antibiotics also makes some of them harder to treat.


Incognito mosquito

  1. This game is all about the spread of malaria. Introduce the topic by asking if anyone knows anything about the disease. We’ve provided some information in ‘International health hazards’ to help you along.
  1. Play a few rounds of ‘Incognito mosquito’. Have everyone move to one end of the activity area. Take one person secretly to one side and inform them that they’re the mosquito carrying the disease. It’s that person’s job to do what a mosquito does and ‘bite’ other players by tagging them.
  2. Tell everyone else that they need to get from one side of the activity area to the other. If they’re tagged by someone, they should shout ‘Ow!’ and move to the side of the activity area. Continue until the mosquito and the last person are left, by which time the mosquito should be somewhat less incognito!
  3. Play again with more secret mosquitoes.

Research and share

  1. Everyone should now get into groups of three or four people, get a computer with internet access, paper and pens or pencils, then pick a global health issue to research. Groups should choose something that everyone is interested in knowing more about. For instance, they could look at malaria, Ebola or HIV/AIDS.
  1. A person in each group should draw the outline of a large tree on some paper, with roots, a trunk and branches. Write the health issue the group is studying on the trunk. Research the causes of the issue (for instance, the source of infection, like mosquito bites for malaria) and write these on the roots.
  2. Research the effects of the issue (for instance, the symptoms of a disease or how the issue affects communities). Write these on the branches.
  3. The tree artists should then draw some fruit on the ends of their branches. Researchers should find some solutions to the issues caused by the health threat (for instance, vaccinations, education or better hygiene). Write these on the fruit.
  1. Groups should now think of ways to feedback what they’ve learned in a creative way. They could share the information through a presentation or create some resources to teach others about the issue. Some other good ideas might be to: create a short skit, song or advert, prepare a quiz, make some art or think up a game.
  2. Have everyone give their presentations to the rest of the group.


Everyone had to think creatively and work together to share what they’d learned. Knowledge is power in the fight against global health issues. As with any camp or trip outdoors, planning and preparation can make all the difference. How did it feel being responsible for sharing this serious information in a more informal way? This is important, as it’s easier for everyone to engage with a fun game or laugh at a funny skit, than it is to absorb lots of facts and figures. It may be that we actually take more useful information from the former than from the latter.

The spread of disease and other health hazards is a really serious topic and can be really scary, but even in difficult circumstances people around the world can use quirky and funny ideas and videos to educate the public and each other on how to stay safe. What was it like to share what you’d found out about a serious issue from one citizen to another? It should’ve felt great, as it’s really helpful to carefully research and share information that can help others.


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.