School Health Service
One of the basic requirements for an effective community health programme is the selection of a well oranised group which can be followed up for a long period of time. in such a group the specific health related problem can be identified, a programme to solve the problem developed and implemented and the effects of the programme can be evaluated. One such group is that of the school going children.
Children in school going age group (6-14 yrs.) represent over 25% of the population in developing countires like India. They are a captive group and can be through an organised educational system. Teachers see their students daily and hence can ensure that health checkup advises are well followed. Children carry the health education messages learnt at school to home and hence many more are educated in the process.
School health check-up is a complete check-up of the child and hence defects are detected at a much early stage and at younger age. e.g a child with poor vision cannot read and write preperly and hence lags behind in studies and may be labelled by parents and school authorities as a child with poor intelligence, while if regular yearly check-up carried out such defects are detected and treated early.
School health check-up is not just check-up at a point of time. But, the important part of this service is that the health records of all students are maintained with school authority and all the major illnesses that a student suffers throughout his school life are recorded on the card. A note of referral services required is also made on the health card.
School Health Service, an important branch of Community Medicine, started in India in 1909, in Baroda city. Here, for the first time medical examinations of school children was carried out. From then onwards the services evolved into well organised systems with additional components being added to the already existing services. In rural India, Primary Health Centers (PHC) are responsible for providing School Health Service in government schools in their area. In cities like Mumbai, School Health Services are provided by Municipal Corporation to all municipal schools through a proper network of Doctors and referral hospitals. Private schools undergo health check-up of their school students through private agencies. Then report of health check-up is sent to the Medical Officer in Charge of School Health Services.
One of the important objective of School Health Services is awakening of health-consciousness in children. In addition, it promotes positive health, helps in prevention of diseases and also in the early diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of defects.
- Maintenance of good health.
- Awakening of health Consciousness.
- Students become more attentive and participate more in academics as well as extracurricular activities because of good health.
Thus, the programme of School Health Service is beneficial to the school authorities, students, family members and community at large.
- Healthy school environment.
- Good academic and extra-curricular results.
- Ready school health records for submission to State Government whenever required.
- Model school as an example for others.
Considering the significance of school health, for the first time, medical examination of school students of a school in Dervan, was carried out by the joint efforts of departments of Community Medicine, Paediatrics and Dentistry of B. K. L. Walawalkar Hospital in January 2000.
The School Health Service would remain incomplete if it ends with medical examination of school students. It has to be backed up with health education. For this purpose, the Department of Community Medicine of B.K.L.Walawalkar Hospital has taken the initiative of providing regular health education sessions on important health topics to school students. This education would be in the form of lectures, notes, story telling, dramas, songs, games etc. In this way the sessions would be made interesting.
While imparting health education to school students, it is expected that these children, upon becoming adults would apply this knowledge for the welfare of their own families. Thus, we look at School Health Service as one of the ways to bring about positive health trends in the society.