New Delhi: “Children form the key to our future and their health is therefore of supreme importance to the growth and development of the country. The School Health Programme under Ayushman Bharat-Health & Wellness Centres shall foster the growth, development and educational achievement of school going children by promoting their health and well-being”, said Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, as he launched the roll out of the joint initiative of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Ministry of Human Resource Development, along with Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Union Minister of Human Resource Development, and Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State (MoS) for Health & Family Welfare, here today.
This initiative is expected to strengthen the concept of preventive, promotional, and positive health, which forms the fundamental cornerstone of the Health & Wellness Centres of Ayushman Bharat scheme, Vardhan stated.
This initiative will be effectively linked with other government initiatives such as the Fit India movement, Eat Right campaign, and Poshan Abhiyaan for an all-round, holistic development model of health for school children and other youth, said Harsh Vardhan.
Vardhan also stated that the efforts put in by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) for developing a 24-hour curriculum, training materials for training of nodal teachers, and facilitators guide were developed in consultation with MoHFW.
Growing up healthy, emotional well-being and mental health, interpersonal relationships, values and responsible citizenship, gender equality, nutrition, health and sanitation, promotion of healthy lifestyles, prevention and management of substance abuse & misuse, reproductive health and HIV prevention, safety and security against violence and injuries, and promotion of safe use of internet, media and social media are the 11 identified themes.
In this new initiative, health promotion and prevention activities programs have been added in addition to ongoing health screening programs through Rasthriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) teams and provision of services (IFA, Albendazole and sanitary napkins).
While health screening and provision of services are ongoing activities, the newly added health promotion and prevention component will be implemented by two teachers identified in every school as Health and Wellness Ambassadors. These ambassadors will be supported by class monitors as Health and Wellness Messengers, Vardhan elaborated.
Vardhan also stated that a National Resource Group (NRG) of 40 members has already been constituted by NCERT who have sound training skills and experience in adolescent health. The NRG will train the State Resource Group which will comprise 2 persons each from SCERT, SIHFW and DIET from each selected district at the 5 Regional Institutes of Education (RIE) at Shillong, Mysore, Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar and Ajmer.
Minister of Human Resource Development, Ramesh Pokhriyal, stated that the teachers are the best mentors for children and now they will also act as Health and Wellness Ambassadors and disseminate key information by organising culturally sensitive activity-based sessions for one hour every week for 24 weeks in a year to promote joyful learning.
The first phase of implementation will be in all public upper primary, secondary, and senior secondary schools of aspirational districts. Subsequently, remaining districts will be taken up in the second year.
Preeti Sudan, Secretary, Health & Family Welfare; Rajiv Garg, DGHS; H Senapathy, Director NCERT; along with officials of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of Human Resource Development, and representatives from developmental partners such as Jhepeigo, UNFPA, USAID, UNICEF and WHO were also present during the inauguration ceremony.