Education and Health sectors collaborate to prepare and respond to COVID-19

In preparing and responding to COVID-19 in mitigating with students; Teachers and School Committees, the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) and Ministry of Health (MOH) are currently visiting provinces to re-activate Health Promoting School (HPS) in provinces of Penama, Tafea, Torba and Sanma as Shefa and Malampa have been re-activated in 2019. This is done through a 3 days training workshop targeting Provincial Health Managers, Provincial Education Officers with all invited stakeholders and key Health and Education Officers of the provinces to come up with the following objectives:

(1) Facilitate workshops for provincial team to establish/revive Health Promoting School Committee; and

(2) Prepare and respond to COVID-19 in mitigating with students; Teachers and School Committees

All topics/issues that require Provincial HPS committee interventions will be covered in this training workshop to reach the following targeted outcomes:

A. Establish and Review Provincial HPS Committee and a workable structure;

B. Develop a Term of Reference for HPS Committee;

C. Develop School Policies; and

D. Develop Provincial HPS Committee Action Plan.

The WHO’s Global School Health Initiative, launched in 1995, seeks to mobilise and strengthen health promotion and education activities at the local, national, regional and global levels. The initiative is designed to improve the health of students, school personnel, families and other members of the community through schools.

The goal of WHO’s Global School Health Initiative is to increase the number of schools that can truly be called “Health Promoting Schools”. Although definitions will vary, depending on need and circumstance, a Health Promoting School can be characterised as a school constantly strengthening its capacity as a healthier setting for living, learning and working.

According to the Vanuatu Global School Health Survey (2016) a high number of students in schools still consume unhealthy foods and involve in bad habits. However, there are also existing good practices to component Health Promoting School initiative which are namely school health policy and school canteen policy integrated with BMI Measurement activity in schools thus, HPS Committee operates to support environment in establishing healthy schools.

The establishment/reactivation of the Provincial HPS Committees is to address issues by building capacity of school health program with the support of all related institutions such as health and education including all stakeholders through School Community Associations (SCA) and School Councils.

As for Penama, HPS initiative is not a new concept for the Penama Team, as it is understood from informal report to be implemented in three selected schools some years ago as piloted project. This was Ambaebulu in North Ambae, Gamalmawa in North Pentecost and Gambule in Maewo. These Schools have contributed much on significant results as increase on student academic result as well as contributed to students’ social health improvement and increase community intervention on multiple project of school development.

These are good things we want to maintain in supporting future of our kids.

The Director of Education Services acknowledges the World Health Organization that has pledged its financial assistance and JICA in providing volunteers to the two ministries to address health in schools. The team work simply shows that we as a nation have huge concerns over our citizens and especially the younger generations to love, care and protect them from any future pandemic like the COVID-19.

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