According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS), In 2019, the number of students in public and private primary and secondary schools is about two crore 36 lakh 30 thousand. This number is increasing every year. Due to lack of necessary health care, inadequate medical services, a large number of school students are suffering from various diseases including severe malnutrition. As the school attendance rate decreases, in the same way, the development of their intellect and thinking is hampered. As a result, its far-reaching effects are reflected in national life. School going students are a significant part of about 17 crore population of Bangladesh.
Ensuring their health protection can be a big movement to create a better future health scenario for the country. In the changed circumstances caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, the educational institutions will not be operating as before if they are reopened after a long holiday. In this case, besides education, the issue of student's health awareness / health protection will be of utmost importance.
Effective initiatives of school authorities are needed - Students can get proper health care if the school authorities are more focused on health activities in their respective educational institutions. Several steps can be taken to ensure the overall good health of the students. Such as- (1) School building should be located in a very safe environment with safe walls, (2) Nursery and primary school should be in one stored building, (3) Each classroom should have capacity to accommodate 40 students, and 300 square cm spaces should be allotted for each student.
The class will not be able to accommodate many students together as before. Classes must be arranged according to physical distance, ensuring the attendance of all students, (4) The number of doors and windows should be at least one-fourth of the size of the floor, (5) Adequate natural light should be provided, (6) Safe drinking water should be ensured throughout the year, (7) Clean and specific distance tiffin room arrangements are required. After the tiffin, group chats are not allowed. (8) There must be separate urinals for boys and girls and one toilet for every 100 student. (9) Teachers and students should be checked to see if they are healthy with fitness. Full controlling management of corona disease should be taken in the educational institution,
(10) Social distancing should be ensured for the students to come and go in the educational institution, (11) Floor and door handles including classrooms, stair handles should be cleaned and disinfected frequently/repeatedly. 12) Education administrator, any other visiting officer, teachers and students must ensure the use of masks. All other hygiene rules including hand washing must be followed. Be sure to use quick-drying hand germicidal or germicidal tissue, and use tissue to cover face and nose when sneezing
Health management should be planned- (1) Ensuring that at least one teacher in each school receives necessary training on general ailments (about some common diseases) and problems of the students, (2) The trained teachers in the school will monitor the personal health care of the students every week. Such as sneezing-coughing, fever-cold, shortness of breath, sore throat etc. and regular cutting of nails, brushing of teeth, cutting of hair, wearing clean clothes etc (3) Health education sessions may be organized in the school after every 15 days, (4) Every five months, on the prescribed day, the school must provide one worm tablet to the students, (5) Community Clinic, Union level Health Officer or The doctor of the Upazila health complex will give medical advice or referral to the sick student if necessary.
Non-government schools can employ doctors and nurses under their own management. It should also provide the school with the necessary equipment to provide first aid to the students suffering from sneezing, cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, child accident, loss of consciousness, vomiting, diarrhoea (6) Healthy balanced nutrition tiffin should be arranged.
Health Diaries may be introduced- (1) There should be a health diary for every student. It is better to record the child's name, date of birth, mother's and father's name and address, phone / mobile numbers of guardians in the diary, (2) The weight taken by the student every year, to determine the height and write it in the diary, (3) To mention the vaccinations received by the students, (4) Regular recording of students' body temperature. Class teachers can assist in this work.
Organizing Health Camp - School authorities may organize health camps with the presentation of sports and cultural programs at least two to three times a year. Immunizations can be given to students who are at risk of contracting an infectious disease. Special health programs can be taken up with other specialists including medicine specialist, paediatrician, psychiatrist, dentist, eye/nose/ear/throat specialist.
Recent guidelines from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) stated that before opening an educational institution, epidemic prevention mask, disinfectants and non-contact thermometer must be collected. Teachers, students and external educators should take body temperature at the entrance of the educational institution.
Those whose body temperature is found to be high should be barred from entering in the schools. Considering the health protection of the students, the guidelines mentioned in the educational institution should be followed very strictly.
The 'School Health Movement' must be started very importantly for full health protection in schools. May all future generations be enlightened with good health in the belief of building a prosperous Bangladesh.
The writer is a Research Officer, District Education Office
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