By Chioma Obinna
In the past, sanitation, hygiene and health education has been an integral part of the school curriculum. The idea was solely to promote a healthy, safe school environment and outreach to families and communities.
According to experts, providing these school children with safe, hygienic school environment and meeting their basic health needs increases the likelihood that they will enroll in, attend and complete primary school as well as make teaching and learning more effective.
Unfortunately, these efforts, which would have reduced abscentism due to sickness and increases attendance as well as change behaviours have been eroded away in the Nigeria school system.
In recoginition of these reasons and others, the Lagos State government last week, strengthened it school health programme with the establishment of School Health Clubs in all the 1,001 public schools in the state.
The School Health Club is to promote effective programme on healthy and safety environment which will include how to access good nutrition with clean water, proper sanitation in schools, health education, life skills training for students among others.
Launching the programme last week in Lagos, Deputy Governor of the State, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire said in order to achieve maximum success, the State Ministry of Health in partnership with implementing partners, Partnership for Transforming Health Systems II (PATH2) and Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) have been mandated to train all teachers and caregivers in the various schools on the Implementation Guidelines and Standard Operation Procedure for programme.
“The launch of the School Health Club in the state is another giant strides towards improving the health status of our people by adopting a “catch-them-young” strategy, most importantly as part of our government effort to achieve the millennium development goals 4 and 5, (improving maternal health and reducing maternal mortality), providing qualitative healthcare services for all the citizens of the state.”
Special Adviser on Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina said the school health programme was revatilsed in 2006 to ensure free medical screening of school pupils in the primary schools.
The screening includes; medical, dental and Ear, Nose and Throat services, provison of drugs, mass – de-worming, treatment of minor ailments and minor procedures such as scaling and polishing, tooth extractions and removal of earwax.
Adeshina who spoke through the Permanent Sceretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Femi Olugbile explained that the Club is expected to provide healthy and safe environment, health education and life skills traininmg, sports and recreational facilities, monitoring of growth, health and overall development of the child and basic health interventions and counselling.
Chairman State Universal basic Education Board (SUBEB) Mrs Gbolahan Dawodu said: “The clubs will return environmental sanity in schools because we have failed in inculcating healthy threats in the pupil. The school health club returns the glory of the schools.”