The equivalent of more than 200 million school years are lost each year in low income countries as a result of ill health, and the impact on learning and cognition is equivalent to a deficit of more than 630 million IQ points.
School health and nutrition programmes contribute to health outcomes and are cost effective for school access and completion (see World Bank Education Pages).
The Fundamental Importance of Education
Education is fundamental to sustainable development. It enables people to be more productive, to earn a better living and enjoy a better quality of life, while also contributing to a country’s overall economic growth. Education is critical for breaking the poverty cycle and its importance is reflected in the commitments of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA).
The Links Between Health and Education
The links between health and education are reciprocal; not only is good health important for children to make the most of their educational opportunities, but the educational setting (both formal and informal) can be important in promoting good health. Compelling evidence indicates that good health and nutrition are prerequisites for effective learning.
School health and nutrition (SHN) interventions have been shown to improve children’s health and nutrition as well as their learning potential and future life choices. Health promotion can happen directly through teaching health and nutrition knowledge and practices, as well as indirectly with education itself acting as a “social vaccine” especially in the case of HIV prevention (Jukes et al. 2007).
Learn more about the important link between health and education in the following pages:
- Jukes, MCH, LJ Drake, DAP Bundy (2008). School Health, Nutrition and Education for All: Levelling the Playing Field. Cambridge, MA, CABI Publishing.
- de Walque, D, JS Nakiyingi-Miiro, J Busingye, JA Whitworth (2005)“Changing association between schooling levels and HIV-1 infection over 11 years in a rural population cohort in south-west Uganda.” Tropical Medicine & International Health:Volume 10(10) October 2005 p 993-1001.
- WHO (1996) Strengthening Interventions to reduce helminth Infections: An entry point for the development of Health-Promoting Schools.
- USAID (2011) Designing Effective Education Programs for School Health Programs
- FRESH Focusing Resources on Effective School Health
As part of the WHO Information Series on School Health see the various useful documents: