It is important that schools focus not only on academic content, but help in preventing risky behaviors such as alcohol and tobacco use, unsafe sex, bullying etc. By incorporating these topics into teaching materials or by having special sessions or support personnel, students are able to learn about these topics and they are also able to overcome peer pressure and to say no when they confront these risky and unsafe behaviours.
The school environment should also encourage healthy habits like exercise and healthy eating. School authorities should ensure that students get sufficient exercise. Physical education should be an integral part of the curriculum and students should be taught the importance of physical activity in preventing diseases. Healthy eating is also important. Children should be provided with or they should bring healthy meals to schools. Schools should discourage the sale of unhealthy foods on or near their compounds. Health promotion materials should be displayed and made available to remind and encourage children of the importance of physical activity and eating healthy.
The provision of dental health education for children is also important and is recommended. This should be part of the primary school curriculum.
Schools should also be able to deal with specific health problems in students, such as asthma, obesity and infectious diseases. Teachers must understand the common diseases that are faced by students and to be familiar with basic response strategy to be able to lend support to students when they are ill.
The school building and environment should be a safe and healthy place. All children must be protected from harm and injury. Learning must be safe.
I wish all our children a safe and healthy school term.
Dr Rosmond Adams, MD is a medical doctor and a public health specialist with training in bioethics and ethical issues in medicine, the life sciences and research. He is the Head of Health Information, Communicable Diseases and Emergency Response at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). (The views expressed here are not written on behalf of CARPHA).
Dr Keith John
Clinic: Heritage Dental