Zimbabwe launched its School Health Policy on 11th June 2018 in Harare as a strategic means to promote positive health determinants while preventing and mitigating health risks among learners.
Jointly developed by the Ministries of Health and Child Care and Primary and Secondary Education, the policy has the vision of “A primary and secondary education system with an enabling environment for the provision of equitable, sustainable and quality health services for all learners.”
Key components of the policy include:
Competency based health education
Psychosocial support services
Safe and sanitary school environment
Disaster risk management
School based health and nutrition services
School – family – community health linkage services
Support facilities and services for learners with special needs; and
Health promotion for school staff
The launch which was held under the theme, “Ensuring a healthy mind in a healthy body’, was attended by the Ministers of Health and Child Care, and Primary and Secondary Education, other senior Government Officials, members of the UN family, teachers, healthy professionals, development partners and civil society representatives.
Speaking at the launch, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Prof. Paul Mavima, said he was pleased that the policy was finally being launched after a long period of consultations with parents, learners and stakeholders in both the education and health sectors.
“The policy provides mechanisms to coordinate a systematic approach to addressing health issues for learners in our schools,” he said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Health and Child Care, David Parirenyatwa said, “a comprehensive school health programme denotes a set of policies, procedures and activities set to protect, promote and support the health and welfare of pupils and staff which include the provision of health services, healthy school environment, life skills, health education and school nutrition”.
Speaking on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Bishow Parajuli, WFP Representative, Mr Eddie Rowe, said since the majority of adolescents and young people in Zimbabwe spend the most of their time in school, implementing a robust school health programme increases the reach of health promotion interventions in this age group.
“HIV remains a significant public health concern in Zimbabwe especially among adolescents and youths, therefore, the School Health Program provides an opportunity for us to step up HIV prevention efforts among young people, and to promote adherence for those young people who are already on treatment,” he said.
The report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training (1999) recommended the development of a school health policy. The development of the policy can be traced back to 2004. The impetus to finalise the policy was provided after the coming in of the Zimbabwe Curriculum Framework, 2015-2022, which acknowledges that healthy and happy learners learn better, while poor health can have a detrimental effect on school attendance and academic performance.
UN agencies in Zimbabwe including UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO and WFP supported the development of the policy. The Policy is seen as a bridge to engage the education sector in efforts to positively influence the educational, social and economic conditions that affect health. In addition, ensuring that a school-going-age population is healthy is key for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
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