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Discuss the School Health Programs as a Community Health Intervention Strategy. Suggest Ways of Increasing Its Effectiveness.

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A Schools Health Program is an integrated set of planned, sequential, school affiliated strategies, activities and services designed to promote the optimal physical, emotional and education development of students. The program involves and is supportive of families and is determined by the local community based on community needs, resources, standards and requirements. It is coordinated by a multidisplinary team and accountable to the community for program quality and effectiveness (The National Academics 2014).
A School health Program is an approach that brings together the resources of families, schools and communities to help students stay health and make most of their educational opportunities. A School Health Program is organised in eight components which include health education, physical education, school health services, counselling, psychological and social services, school nutrition services, a healthy school environment, staff wellness programs and family and community involvement.
School Health Programs can play an important role in promoting lifelong health. The national health promotion and disease prevention objectives encourage schools to provide education from pre-school through to university. An effective school health program can be one of the most cost-effective investments a nation can make to simultaneously improve education and health. WHO promotes school health programs as a strategic means to prevent important health risks among youth and to engage the education sector in efforts to change the educational, social economic and political conditions that affect risks.
School health programs are said to be one of the most efficient strategies that a nation might use to prevent major health and social problems. Next to the family, schools are the major institution for providing the instruction and experiences that prepare young people for their roles as healthy, productive adults. Schools can and inevitably do play a powerful role in influencing students’ health-related behaviours. Elementary, middle, and secondary schools are therefore prime setting for public health programming. Appropriate school interventions can foster effective education, prevent destructive behaviour and promote enduring health practices. For many young people in their formative years, school may in fact be only nurturing and supportive place where they learn health information and have positive behaviour consistently reinforced.
In addition, health and success in school are inextricably intertwined. Good health facilitates children’s growth, development and optimal learning, while education contributes to children’s knowledge about being health. Studies of young people have found that health-risk behaviours negatively affect (i) education outcomes including graduation rates, class grades and performance standardized tests, (ii) education behaviours including attendance, dropout rates, behavioural problems and degree of involvement in school activities such as homework and extracurricular pursuits and (iii) students attitudes, including aspirations for postsecondary education, feelings about safety at school and positive personal attitudes.
Schools cannot achieve their primary mission of education if students and staff are not health and fit physically, mentally and socially. Children who are sick, hungry, abused, using drugs, who feel that nobody cares, or who may be distracted by family problems are unlikely to learn well. On child’s lack of progress can impede the learning of the other children in the classroom as well. Education reform efforts are bound to be of limited effectiveness unless health-related barriers to learning are directly addressed. As Harriet Tyson writes, ‘First among those barriers are poor physical and mental health conditions that prevent students from showing up for school, paying attention in class, restraining their anger, quieting their self-disruptive impulses and refraining from dropping out. When surveyed, most parents and members of the general public consistently rate health as an important topic that schools should address.
School Health Programs as a community health intervention strategy seeks to mobilise and strengthen health promotion and education activities at the local, national regional and global levels. It is designed to improve the health of students, school personnel, families and other members of the community through schools such as alcohol and substance abuse, violence and antisocial behaviour decrease as parent involvement increases. Students are less likely to succeed when communities are economically deprived, disorganised and lack opportunities for employment or youth involvement, when families do not set clear expectations, monitor children’s behaviour, or model appropriate behaviours and when school present a negative climate and do not involve students and their families. School community partnerships have contributed to the success of coordinated school health programs across the country. Communities expect schools and families to prepare students to become healthy, productive citizens. Communities can in turn have a responsibility to join with school and families in support of efforts that can help achieve this goal.
A school health program empowers students with not only the knowledge, attitudes and skills required to make positive health decisions but also the environment, motivation, services and support necessary to develop and maintain health behaviours. According to Resnicow K. (1991) a school health program includes health education, a healthy environment, health services, counselling, psychological and social services, integrated school and community efforts, physical education and a school based program for faculty and staff.
Max and Wooley (1998) argue that school health programs as a community health intervention has seen family and community partnerships with schools when children feel valued, they are more likely to develop health skills, avoid risky behaviours and remain in school. When parents are involved, students achieve more regardless of socio-economic status, ethical/racial background, or the parents ‘education level. The more extensive the parent involvement, the higher the student achievement. Negative student behaviours such as alcohol and substance abuse, violence and antisocial behaviour decrease as parent involvement increases. Students are less likely to succeed when communities are economically deprived, disorganised and lack opportunities for employment or youth involvement, when families do not set clear expectations, monitor children’s behaviour, or model appropriate behaviours and when school present a negative climate and do not involve students and their families.
School-community partnerships have contributed to the success of coordinated school health programs across the country. Communities expect schools and families to prepare students to become healthy, productive citizens. Communities can in turn have a responsibility to join with schools and families in support of efforts that can help achieve this goal. To be successful, school and community partnership must have clear concise responsibilities and expectations for each participant, allow for flexibility in organisation and implementation acknowledge that partnerships require a time commitment and that initial gains may be small and provide appropriate training for teachers, administrators and community members. The school, the family and the community each has its own unique resources, each can reach students in way the other cannot and each influences young people’s behaviours in different ways. Together as participants in a school health program, they can provide an environment in which students can learn and mature successfully.
Aldiner (2008) maintains that School based health programs have successfully reduced parasitic helmith infections and addressed issues ranging from tobacco use prevention hygiene, nutrition and sexual education. Schools that provide health services and education not only benefit school aged children, but also the entire community. It has been demonstrated that de-worming programs in school benefit out-of-school children reducing disease transmission in the community as a whole (Bundy et al). school children can act as messengers for other out-of-school children and members of their communities to communicate better practices in hygiene and overall health. Costs can also be reduced by using existing school system infrastructure as a key delivery mechanism. School health interventions have numerous economic returns through adult health outcomes. The effect of health on productivity and earnings may be the strongest where low-cost health interventions produce large effects. Healthier children are more likely to attend school and modest improvements in schooling will allow for the continuation of education. Education and good health offer children the power of choice and opportunity, as well as optimism for a better life. Evidence suggests that education can help protect individuals, particularly young women, for HIV infection and pregnancy. According to Bundy et al, health education in childhood can also help establish lifelong positive behaviours. It is widely recognised that school health and nutrition programs are essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and are central to preventing further HIV/AIDS pandemic. Today the majority of low-income countries have recognised the need for school health and nutrition programs and are seeking to implement these important programs.
School health programs are said to be one of the most efficient strategies that a nation might use to prevent major health and social problems. Nest to the family, schools are the major institution for providing the instruction and experiences that prepare young people for their roles as health, productive adults.
Schools can and invariably do play a powerful role in influencing students’ health related behaviours. Appropriate school interventions can foster effective education, prevent destructive behaviour and promote enduring health practices for many young people in their formative years, school may, in fact, be the only nurturing and supportive place where they learn health information and have positive behaviour consistently reinforced.
One way of increasing school health programs’ effectiveness is the need for staff development. Staff development increasingly is approached as the day-to day fostering of continuous improving in one’s professional practice and not as a workshop that occurs in isolation. Another way to increase effectiveness of school health programs is the involvement of active students. Students are more likely to turn to peers for advice and change is more likely to occur if someone similar o them recommends the change. Peer instruction has been effective in improving decision-making and problem solving skills which may be prerequisites for implementing behaviour change. Peer involvement may occur in a variety of ways such as peer counselling, peer instruction, peer theatre, youth service and cross-age mentoring.
Ways of increasing effective school health programs in community health are by focusing on priority behaviours that affect health and learning. These behaviours are tobacco use, unhealthy dietary behaviours, inadequate physical activity, alcohol and other drug abuse, sexual behaviours that may result in HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases, or unwanted pregnancies and behaviour that may result in intentional injuries and unintentional injuries. Another way of increasing the program’s effectiveness is by ensuring on-going staff development of which to assure effective programming, there is need for staff development programs. Systematic program planning is another effective way of increasing school heal programs’ effectiveness in which every organisational group that is part of the school health program needs to use a programming process to assure continuous improvements in programing.

In summary, school health programs can provide the nurture and support needed to facilitate the adoption of health-enhancing behaviours. This helps assure that educational gains achieved by a student will be maximized by a long and healthy life as an adult. A school health program can promote the optimal physical, emotional, social life of educational development.

Aldinger C. Zhang, X W Lui et al (2008) Changes in attitudes, Knowledge and behaviour associated with implementing a Comprehensive School Health Program in a Province of China
Allenworth, Diane al eds. (1994). Healthy Students. An Agenda for Continuous Improvement in America’s Schools
Blair, Stevel N. et al. (1984). Health Promotion for Educators: Effects on Health Behaviours, Satisfaction and General Well-Being
Kane, William M.(1994) Planning for a Comprehensive School Health Program.
Marx E and Wooley S. F. (Eds) (1998). Health is Academic: A guide to Coordinated School Health Programs: New York.
Resnicow K.(1981) Cancer Prevention and Comprehensive School Health Education: the Role of The American Cancer Society.
The National Academics/500 fifth st. N.W/Washington DC.20001 (2014) National Academy of Sciences.
Tyson, Harriet (1999). A load off the Teachers’ backs: Coordinated School Health Programs

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