In 2016, over 41 million children under the age of five globally were estimated to be overweight. Today 1 in 5 children are overweight.
Not only do these children suffer social stigma but their poor sense of self also hampers their growth and cognition and often results in low immunity levels and indifference towards health leading to frequent absenteeism from school. Children today are experiencing tremendous stress from social media resulting in them taking risky measures to attain the media propagated ideal body image. This combined with intense academic pressure influenced by constant comparisons; they are willing to stop eating to lose weight and even willing to experiment with drugs. Children's bodies do not express physical or mental health signs for a long time and so these often escape being noticed at home. Nor is it feasible for parents to provide scientific health education and intervention required at regular intervals. This calls for the schools to create a healthy ecosystem to help children learn about positive body image and be comfortable with their unique identities.
Today over 100 schools around the country have chosen to utilise professional services for school healthcare based on the parameters of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization Growth Charts. Integrated into the school curriculum, the school is provided a monthly calendar for educating each child on topics such as hygiene, nutrition, stress, vision etc. through educational videos and hands-on activities. As part of the programme, a carefully selected team of Specialist Doctors visit the school to test the child's Physical, Dental, Eye and Growth Parameters. Parents receive reports online and can get a second opinion through the school from the panel of doctors familiar with the child's health history.
According to Prasan Jain, Director of Pathways Group of Schools, “who has joined hands with a professional school health system provider, “This is an indication of the prominence we give to children's health and it will help us to uphold our commitment to international standards at our school.”
Professionalism in this area has today attained high standards of child health care. Built over many years of experience, a comprehensive school health system can make available a special App for the school nurse to access reports of all students as well as log the clinic visits of each child throughout the year. In case of an emergency, all important contact numbers can be stored and the nearest ambulance can be called. Services such as psychometric tests for school staff are also offered. Accident insurance for each child for a sum of Rs.1 Lakh (~USD 1500) is another special benefit available through the school health programme. Through such essential services every school can ensure a hassle free, health promoting ecosystem year round and healthy, happy children and parents.