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Integrated School Health Policy launched

The Departments of Health and Basic Education published the Integrated School Health Policy in October 2012.

The Departments of Health and Basic Education published the Integrated School Health Policy in October 2012.

The strengthening of school health services is central to the Department of Health’s Primary Health Care (PHC) reengineering programme. Within the education sector, strengthened school health services is a core component of the Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) Programme, which aims to ensure all schools become inclusive centres of care and support so as to realise the education rights of all children.

This policy seeks to address the immediate health problems of learners as well as  to implement interventions to promote their health in childhood and adulthood. The policy recognises that the realisation of the full range of children’s rights depends on the realisation of their health and well-being, especially in their formative school years, and that focusing on the health of children in their early school years will improve not only their survival, growth and health but learning outcomes and development.

In order to realise children’ potential, the new Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP) builds on and strengthens existing school health services and introduces a number of important changes, including the following:

  • A commitment to close collaboration between the Departments of Health, Basic Education and Social Development and an assumption of shared responsibilities to ensure that ISHP reaches all learners in all schools.
  • The provision of services to all children in all three education phases: foundation phase, intermediate and senior phases.
  • The provision of a more comprehensive range of screening, preventative and treatment services to address barriers to learning and to address conditions that contribute to morbidity and mortality among learners.
  • The implementation of referral mechanisms to ensure that children identified as needing additional services in fact receive them.
  • A more systematic approach to implementation to ensure that services reach down to sub-district, school and learner levels, starting with the most disadvantaged schools.
  • Implementation will take place within the new CSTL Framework that has been developed by the Department of Basic Education to coordinate all care and support initiatives at school level.

The policy vision is: The optimal health and development of school-going children and the communities in which they live and learn. The policy goal: To contribute to the improvement of the general health of school-going children as well as the environmental conditions in schools and address health barriers to learning in order to improve education outcomes of access to school, retention within school and achievement at school. The policy objective: To guide the provision of a comprehensive, integrated school health programme which is provided as part of the PHC package within the Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) Framework.

This will be achieved through: the provision of preventive and promotive services that address the health needs of school-going children and youth with regard to both their immediate and future health; supporting and facilitating learning through the identification and addressing of health barriers to learning; facilitating access to health and other services where required; and supporting the school community to create a safe and secure environment for teaching and learning.

Targeted beneficiaries include the entire population of learners from Grade R (where attached to formal schools) through to Grade 12 as well as the broader school community. Children that are not covered by the policy include pre-school children, children of school-going age not attending school, and those who have completed Grade 12.

The package of school health services includes health education and promotion, learner assessment and screening, on-site services such as deworming, and follow-up and referral services.

WEB LINKS FOR THIS ARTICLE

Click here to view the Integrated School Health Policy.