Over a hundred teachers from around 10 schools in Guadalcanal Province that includes Early Childhood Education, Primary and Secondary schools have successfully completed training on the Ministry of Health’s, Health Promoting School Training guideline.
Healthy setting approach is empowering community members, households and individuals to take care of their health determinants. Setting basically is where people live, learn, socialize, and work together. For example community or village, schools, workplace, market setting and so forth. The MHMS endorsed various healthy setting guidelines, including the healthy school guideline.
The guideline is to enable schools to map out areas that require attention and actions to ensure a healthy safe and supportive learning environment for school children. This initiative is part and parcel of a larger effort of health to promote healthy living and lifestyle thereby places focus and attention on the prevention front.
MHMS, Chief Health Promotion Officer and the National Healthy Settings Coordinator, Mr. Ben Rickie Kiokimo explained that a health-promoting school is an approach within the Healthy Settings vision through the World Health Organization, and the healthy islands of the pacific which was established back in 1995 under the Yanucca declaration, by the Pacific Islands Ministers of Health.
Mr. Kiokimo further stated that this approach is being implemented by the Ministry of Health through its National Health Promotion Department and provincial health services and its partners and stakeholders.
In Guadalcanal seven (7) schools underwent the training prior to COVID-19 with some during COVID-19 response phase while the other 3, Betivatu community high school, Sir Jacob Vouza community high school and Turarana community high school, having completed the training in the past two weeks.
Principle Health Promotion Officer, Mr Kelton Sikala who is currently supporting the Healthy Settings program and is the lead facilitator for the Guadalcanal Health Promoting School training, stated after the training, participants were expected to conduct basic assessment of gaps within their settings, and to develop action plans to address the issues identified.
“For instance in Betivatu school, participants identified issues related to health and safety which includes need for strengthening behavior change communication to make personal hhygiene activities such as hand washing after using the toilet and before eating a norm. They have also identified the need to replace one of its buildings that has deteriorated and poses safety risks to students and staff”, explained Mr. Sikala.
He added there are many other health and safety issues being identified with the schools having to make commitments to address them, some will require support from education authorities while most falls within the jurisdiction of the schools themselves.
“This is the purpose of the training to enable the teachers and school administrators see for themselves issues impacting students’ health and learning within the school premises”, said Mr. Sikala.
He also highlighted that the importance of the training is to improve health and wellbeing in the country, “Therefore we must invest in the holistic health settings at the school level, where children spends more time of the day and a captive learning environment.
“Health education must be capture in the school education curriculum, and also reflected in school administration and ethos, with strong community partnership and health services to the school settings”, highlighted Mr. Sikala.
Historically, the concept also highlights the following key action area; Healthy School Policies, School’s Physical Environment, School Social Environment, Community Links, Action Competencies for Healthy Living, School Health Care, and Promotion Services.
Public health officials and workers in other provinces are also rolling out their healthy setting programs.
More from other provinces and national progress with the implementation of the healthy-setting initiative will be communicated soon.