School Students Leverage Social Media To Highlight Thalassaemia

Based on the 2018 Thalassemia Registry Report, Sabah showed the highest number of thalassemia cases in Malaysia with 1,814 patients that account for 23% of cases.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — Repsol Malaysia today announced the conclusion of its successful five-month-long thalassaemia awareness campaign, ‘NowyouSEEme 2021’, which was done in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Education (MOE).

This campaign aimed to educate secondary school students on the medical condition, encouraging them to be better informed, and to play an active role in society to manage and eventually eradicate the disease.

Students had the opportunity to express their creativity in communicating their understanding and information about thalassaemia through social media and other competitions organised in their respective schools.

More than 13,000 students and teachers from 50 schools across Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang were involved in the campaign activities. The contests saw entries with a variety of content from infographics, short films, music videos, posters, and TikTok videos – each talking about thalassaemia in their own unique way.

“We are encouraged by the students’ involvement in the NowyouSEEme campaign. Beyond the contests, many sought information on thalassaemia through our materials available on our campaign portal,” said Repsol Malaysia director Pablo Ortolá Martínez.

“The fight against thalassaemia is a cause that Repsol Malaysia holds dear to our hearts. We have been committed to support the thalassaemia communities locally and the efforts to create awareness for the last eight years. This achievement with the NowyouSEEme campaign is an important milestone to us as we engage a different segment of audience — and perhaps, an important one — that are the students,” Martinez added.

Repsol Malaysia is supportive of the government goals towards reducing thalassaemia birth rates in Malaysia by as much as 95 per cent by 2038. They have been spearheading initiatives with local NGOs that are directly involved in supporting thalassaemia communities. 

Speaking at the virtual event, MOH secretary-general Mohd Shafiq Abdullah said, “The NowyouSEEme campaign is an important one to the cause of raising awareness on thalassaemia because the disease can only be best managed when detected early. What this campaign has achieved is to help tell the thalassaemia narrative through a fresh, different perspective — one that is relatable to the audience in the same generation.”

MOE secretary-general Hajah Nor Zamani said, “Digital learning is important to circumvent this Covid pandemic as the students learn to grow accustomed to this norm. The future of education lies in digital platforms and goes beyond the classroom syllabus as the next generation shapes to become more holistic members of society. This campaign reflects how creative our students are in simplifying complex topics like thalassaemia and how savvy they are in leveraging social media channels as a medium of learning.”

Overall, SMK Paka from Terengganu scored the highest number of points cumulated from students’ participation across the campaign initiatives, walking away with a RM5,000 cash prize.

SMK Bentong from Pahang, and SMK Muadzam Jaya, also from Pahang, emerged runner-up and second runner-up respectively with RM4,000 and RM3,000 cash prizes respectively.

Other awards included:

  • Most creative campaign: SMK Paka, Terengganu
  • Most popular campaign through votes: SMK Paka, Terengganu
  • Best performance: SMK Bentong, Pahang
  • Best music video: SMK Bentong, Pahang
  • Highest involvement for Thalassaemia quiz: SMK Bentong, Pahang

“While the NowyouSEEme campaign was a successful one, there is still a lot of work to be done with awareness on thalassaemia. Our work as Repsol does not stop here and in fact, we hope that this would have inspired others to play their part in the cause in any capacity they can,” Martinez said.

Thalassaemia is an inherited condition that disrupts the production of red blood cells. In turn, the function of the cells is affected. This would cause one to easily feel tired, weak, or have shortness of breath.

Regular blood transfusions are the most common method of treatment which is a life-long procedure.

Based on the figures in the 2018 Thalassaemia Registry Report, Sabah showed the highest number of thalassaemia cases in Malaysia with a total of 1,814 patients that account for 22.72% of the cases.

This is followed by Selangor, Kedah, and Johor with 1,169, 694, and 637 patients, respectively. There are 110 government hospitals in Malaysia actively managing thalassemia patients.

Out of 7,984 thalassaemia patients in Malaysia, adolescents between 11 and 15 years old comprise the most patients, numbering 1,394 patients (17.46 per cent), followed by children between 16 and 20 years old and 6 and 10 years old, numbering 1,286 (16.11 per cent) and 1,272 (15.93 per cent) patients respectively.

The data also indicated a smaller number of patients above 50 years old (278 patients, 3.48 per cent).

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