Zim launches School Health Policy

ZIMBABWE has launched a school health policy which will act as a yardstick towards planning and programming for school children’s  health activities and the sector at large.

By Michael Gwarisa

Officiating at the launch ceremony, Health and Child Care minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said the policy had come at a time when Zimbabwe needed an education sector specific policy which will scale up disease prevention and programing in schools.

“Ill health in schools has been characterised by increasing incidence and prevalence of communicable diseases like HIV infection, tuberculosis, including neglected tropical diseases. Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including Diabetes Mellitus, injuries, psychological conditions and malnutrition are among the conditions affecting the school going age.

“Ill health affects the education potential thereby influencing the pass and competition rates of our children,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.

He added that the Nziramasanga and the Health presidential commissions of 1999 recommended the need for implementing a comprehensive school health programme in primary and secondary schools in order to improve the health and education outcomes in schools.

“It has taken us so long to implement this call which is globally recommended by UNESCO, World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and other international bodies.

“A comprehensive school health program denotes a set of policies, procedures and activities designed to protect, promote and support the health and welfare of pupils and staff which have traditionally included the provision of health services, health school environment, life skills health education and school nutrition.”

He also said the health policy will now complement the education act, child protection act to act on health and welfare of school children.

Meanwhile, Primary and Secondary education minister, Professor Paul Mavhima said the policy was a milestone in the history of Zimbabwe’s education sector and was meant to complement the new curriculum.

“It is one of the policies that will ensure we have a quality education in Zimbabwe. Our leaners cannot attain education to optimal levels without good health. What we are launching is a policy that will enable our leaners to achieve good health.

“SDG4 which talks to quality universal education talks about the fact that improving pupils lives and transformation them is achievable through education. Health and education lead to social economic development,” said Prof Mavhima.

He also said the global initiatives spearheaded by UNESCO and Global education fact book which was launched in 2012 highlighted the importance of providing universal education as well as taking into consideration the issues of health to curb the spread of diseases in schools.

“As we launch this policy, it’s not just about screening leaners, it’s also about our curriculum making sure that health is taught to our leaners at a very young stage. Within the global context, the African Union (SU) has come up with agenda 2063 set to accelerate the implementation of a continental education strategy.

“Among the agreed continental priorities health and nutrition are recognised as critical components for quality education for all. It is within this context that AU has launched a home-grown school feeding program.”

He also applauded government through the ministry of health for spearheading the national Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine which is targeting girls aged nine to 14.





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