UNICEF applauds South Africa’s new integrated school health programme
Pretoria, 12 October 2012 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) welcomes the adoption of South Africa’s new integrated school health programme, which was launched by President Jacob Zuma at a ceremony in Cullinan yesterday.
“All children deserve the best start in life so they can grow up strong, learn and succeed in life – from birth, through childhood and into adolescence,” said UNICEF Representative Aida Girma. “This new school-based policy heralds a new collaborative era on child health and education in South Africa.”
The new integrated school health programme, which is one of the three streams of South Africa’s primary health care system, aims to strengthen and expand existing school health services beyond screening and referral. The programme will provide a comprehensive health package to improve the health of school-going children and remove health barriers to learning at every stage of their development.
In addition to receiving health and life skills education, every learner will be assessed by professional health workers at least once during each of the four educational phases to identify children who suffer from, or are at risk for, long-term health and psychosocial conditions.
“Based on international experience, we know that successful roll out of the integrated school health package will require close collaboration between various sectors – education, health and social development,” said Ms Girma. “UNICEF is committed to work with the government, civil society and private sector partners to ensure the success of the programme for every child, everywhere.”
The new policy also calls for the active involvement of school governing bodies and community leaders, such as traditional and faith-based leaders and ward councilors. The participation of learners through student representative councils and school clubs such as the Girls and Boys Education Movement (GEM/BEM) clubs will be critical to expand the reach of the programme.
“Learners can act as health promoters and change agents among their peers, families and the broader community – amplifying the impact beyond the school environment.” said Ms Girma.
For more information, please contact:
Thierry Delvigne-Jean, Chief: Communication & Partnerships, UNICEF South Africa, Tel: 012 354 8201; firstname.lastname@example.org