Health care package set for 20,000 public pupils in Koronadal

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/11 June)– Around 20,000 public elementary students here are set to receive various basic health care packages through a school-based health initiative adopted by the city government.

Dr. Jean Genevieve Aturdido, city health officer, said Monday the local government will implement this school year the “Essential Health Care Program” for public elementary schools within the city’s 27 barangays.

She said the program will be launched on June 19 at the San Roque Elementary School in Barangay San Roque in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) and non-government group Fit for School Inc.

Under the program, the official said each beneficiary will initially receive an essential health care kit comprising of a soap, toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride.

She said the beneficiaries will also undergo biannual deworming as part of the program’s key components.

Aturdido said the city government adopted the program to strengthen its ongoing efforts to improve the health and nutritional status of schoolchildren in the area.

“We’ll not only distribute the health kits but we’ll also educate our schoolchildren about their use and the importance of proper health practices and hygiene,” she said.

Aturdido said they will specifically teach the schoolchildren about proper hand washing and tooth brushing techniques.

She said the health care program consists of three interventions: daily hand washing with soap, daily tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste and a biannual deworming activity that shall be conducted in public institutions such as public schools and day care centers.

Through the program, she said they are aiming to further improve the beneficiaries’ health status and eventually enhance their school performance.

Aturdido said they also want to improve the behavior of schoolchildren towards healthy practices and personal hygiene.

“Health and education should always go hand in hand. Our schoolchildren will perform or do better in school if they’re healthy,” Aturdido said.

The official said the city government, which allocated P500,000 for the program, has initially created a technical working group for the program composed of representatives from DepEd, Fit for School and local public elementary schools.

She said that DepEd, specifically local elementary school administrators or officials, was earlier tasked to help identity the program’s beneficiaries.

Fit for School will help monitor the program’s implementation and take charge with its information and education campaigns, she said.

Fit for School Inc. mainly supports the health and education sectors in their efforts to achieve the child-related targets of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

The group aims to promote simple and cost-effective essential health care package in public elementary schools, preschools and day care centers.

The essential health care program is a national flagship initiative of DepEd and is supported by international development agencies and corporate groups. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)