DHA launches school health policy for Dubai

The Dubai Health Authority has launched the school health policy for the Emirate of Dubai with an aim to create a safe, healthy and motivating school environment for pupils.

The comprehensive policy has three main key components: disease prevention and early detection, health information and research systems and encouraging students to lead a healthy lifestyle.

As part of the strategy, the authority will launch 12 programs based on these three components that are applicable for private schools in the Emirate.

The 12 programs include: a program to encourage students to eat five portions of vegetables and fruits a day, a program to increase physical activity to 150 minutes a week, compliance with the essential immunisation program, an awareness and screening program about non-communicable diseases, dental, visual and obesity early-detection program, health supervision program according to DHA standards. A program that entails building a database system and an integrated health information systems through HASANA and the student's electronic file, school health services accreditation program, school health research and studies program, unified school infrastructure program, unification of emergency and disaster safety procedures program and a program to unify and circulate a psychological counseling support plan.

By implementing these programs the DHA aims to increase fruit and vegetable intake among students aged 7-15 years-old, encourage healthier food consumption, increase physical activity amongst students aged 7-15 years-old and decrease obesity amongst students aged 7-15 years old - in line with Dubai plan 2021& UAE vision 2021.

Dr Manal Al Taryam, CEO of Primary Healthcare Sector at the DHA, said: "A holistic school health environment is needed to protect children and bring out the best in them. We designed this policy after carefully considering all these factors. We have worked with various governmental authorities in the UAE to jointly design a truly comprehensive school health policy,"

Dr Nahed Monsef, Director of Health Affairs Department at the DHA, said: "Immunisation is an important way of protecting children from some illnesses - including those that suddenly become a bigger threat."

Dr Monsef, added: "While the Authority already has several initiatives in place, a wider five-year policy will be extremely comprehensive, concentrating on 3 major themes which are: healthy lifestyle promotion, disease prevention, early detection and strengthening the health informatics system. The policy was developed in collaboration of our strategic stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health & Prevention, Ministry of Education, KHDA, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Sports Council including parents as and the community.

Dr Ayesha Al Theeb from the school health department at the DHA said: "For a successful school health policy, we need to ensure that all stakeholders including parents and staff truly understand the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle."