Better health for learners

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma will today launch the Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP) in Tshwane, which will ensure that learners have access to primary health care services.

Held under the theme, 'Taking responsibility for our learners' health and wellbeing', the government programme, which will be launched at Chokoe Primary School and ChipaTabane Secondary School in Cullinan, means that barriers to effective learning will be a thing of the past.

Many children face barriers to optimal health and development as a result of the HIV and Aids epidemic, violence and injuries and non-communicable diseases.

The President will launch the programme to ensure the optimal development of children in Tshwane.

According to the Presidency, the strengthening of school health services through the ISHP is a key component of the primary health care restructuring process in the Department of Health and the Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) Programme within the Department of Basic Education.

The Department of Social Development will be responsible for assisting learners to access services, particularly where financial barriers impede accessing services. This includes providing transport to health facilities where necessary.

The ISHP will offer services including:
 eyesight, hearing and oral hygiene;
 immunisation (for foundation and intermediate phases);
 deworming (for foundation and intermediate phases);
 treatment of minor conditions, especially skin conditions (all phases);
 counselling on sexual and reproductive health issues and offer of services via mobile health units (all senior and FET learners, and intermediate learners where required), and
 prevention of drug and alcohol use and abuse.

The ISHP further aims to individually assess every learner once during each of the four educational phases. Additional individual assessments will be offered to all learners who are repeating grades, at the request of an educator or parent or of the learner him/herself.

The Presidency explained that assessment during the foundation phase will focus primarily on identifying health barriers to learning, as well as identifying children who have or are at risk for long-term health, psychological or other problems.

"Although the ISHP initially targets the most disadvantaged schools, the plan is that it eventually reaches all learners," said the Presidency.

The ISHP will be launched in Tshwane district, which is one of 11 pilot districts that have been identified in terms of the National Health Insurance (NHI).

The NHI is aimed at attaining universal coverage of health services in an affordable and equitable manner for all South Africans in a manner that will ensure quality of health care in the public service.

During the launch, the President will be accompanied by the Ministers of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Social Development Bathabile Dlamini.