National School Health & Nutrition Strategy 2006 Nepal

  • National School Health & Nutrition Strategy 2006 Nepal

    The School Health and Nutrition (SHN) program is a cost-effective intervention for resource-poor countries. SHN program aims to provide timely support and preventive measures to improve the health of school children, which can be associated with their cognitive development, learning, and academic performance.
    Schools have been a powerful setting to promote health programs. The School Health and Nutrition (SHN) program is a cost-effective intervention for resource-poor countries where more schools and teachers are available than health care institutions and workers. Many school-aged children in these countries are affected by treatable and preventable illnesses. School children’s ill health can be associated with poor cognitive development, learning, and academic performance. The SHN program aims to provide timely support and preventive measures to improve the health of school children.
    In 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Global School Health Initiative and introduced the concept of Health-Promoting Schools (HPS), which can be characterized as schools seeking to strengthen their capacity and enable a healthy environment in the schools. The SHN program is an integral part of HPS, and many countries have adopted the SHN program to promote health through schools.
    Health-promotion activities have been successfully implemented through the SHN program in resource-rich countries. However, in resource-limited countries, several operational barriers exist to implement such programs. Major challenges identified include insufficient funds, inadequate physical infrastructures, and lack of trained human resources. Furthermore, poor coordination and partnerships between stakeholders are also significant hindrances.
    In Nepal, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) jointly endorsed the National SHN Strategy in 2006. Since the strategy was endorsed, the Government of Nepal has been conducting the SHN program in different parts of the country with technical and financial support from several aid agencies. The program aims to improve the physical, mental, emotional, and educational status of school children in Nepal. However, the coverage of the program activities has not reached many districts in the country, and most of the support has been limited to the students of government schools. Besides, many stakeholders are conducting only selective activities.
    To improve the quality of the SHN program, generating evidence is essential. With this aim, in 2013, we conducted an evaluation study of a 4-year-long SHN project jointly conducted by JICA and Nepal Government in Sindhupalchok and Syangja districts. The project included SHN activities such as general and oral health check-ups, first aid services, deworming, iron supplementation, child club activities, and special health classes, maintaining the SHN register and providing mid-day meals. It also involved school cleaning; improving access to safe drinking water, toilet, and hand-washing facilities; and constructing toilets and waste disposal pits in schools. The teachers in the project schools were trained to conduct SHN activities. The results showed that students in project schools had better access to various school health services, hygiene and sanitation facilities, and more child club activities and special health classes compared to those in comparison schools. Eventually, better access to hygiene and sanitation facilities improved students’ hygiene practices, and their improved hygiene practices were associated with positive health outcomes.

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