Good health is essential for learning and cognitive ability. Ensuring good health when children are of school age can boost attendance and educational achievement. In sub-Saharan Africa studies have shown that more than half of schoolchildren are stunted in height and are anaemic, in many areas most schoolchildren are infected with worms and malaria. These conditions are associated with impaired cognitive ability. The importance of school health and nutrition (SHN) interventions
SHN interventions have been shown to improve not only children’s health and nutrition, but also their learning potential and life choices both in the short and long-term. Healthy children learn better.
Over the past few decades, the success of child survival programmes and the expansion of education coverage has resulted in a greater number of children reaching school-age and a higher number of these children attending a primary school.
However, disease and malnutrition is still a major burden among this age group. Children who begin school with the worst health status, have the most to gain from health and nutrition programmes. They also have the most to gain educationally, since they show the greatest improvement in cognition as a result of health intervention. These school health programmes particularly benefit the poor and disadvantaged and these children are increasingly accesible through schools as a result of universal education strategies.
School-based health programmes can be amongst the most cost-effective of public health interventions. Since they promote learning, and simultaneously reduce absenteeism, they can also be used as leverage for existing investments in schools and teachers.
It is now widely recognised that SHN programmes are an important instrument in enabling children to attend school. As such, they are recognized as making a significant contribution towards countries’ efforts to achieve Education for All (EFA) and their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Why use the school based platform for health interventions
Global and national initiatives to achieve universal access to basic education mean that more children now have the opportunity to go to school, meaning that there more children can be reached through the school system than ever before. School health programmes can help ensure that children are health and able to take advantage of what is often their first and only opportunity for formal education.
The award-winning documentary One Childhood relates to the Eritrean success in supporting the development of its children through seamlessly delivering a school health programme, even in the most inaccessible communities, as a direct consequence of a strong partnership between the education and health sectors for an overview of this topic.
School Health and Nutrition Documents and Resource Centre:
Africa and Asia Short Courses on Contemporary School Health and Nutrition programmes:
Other Key Resources:
Directory of support to school-based health and nutrition programmes - building on information gathered during a previous survey (2000), results are provided within this report with an update and overview of support to school health and nutrition (SHN) programmes in low income countries.
Designing effective education programs for school health in developing countries - This report from USAID provides an overview and guidance for designing and implementing programs that support and integrate school health and nutrition activities into education programs in developing countries.
Common approaches to sponsorship funded programming school health and nutrition module - This paper from Save the Children looks at the funds allocated to programmes aimed at ensuring that children are educated and healthy through the use of a proven approach to design, implementation and measurement.
Building up the national policy and system for food and nutrition security - This document introduces the Brazilian experience in building up the National System and Policy for Food and Nutrition Security.
Nutritional Status of School-Aged Children - This journal provides a summary of data on the nutritional status of school aged children worldwide.
And view the following school health topics: