In a bid to ensure early detection of health issues and prompt intervention among adolescent students in Jharkhand, the state health department is carrying out a ‘School Health Campaign’ for 2.19 lakh students from the classes VI-XII of all public and aided schools.
Officials said it was the first time that preliminary screening of students in the 10-19 age range would be carried out simultaneously in all 24 districts with the help of ‘health and wellness ambassadors’. “.
The resolution of Jharkhand Health and Family Welfare Department dated November 14 said that the process will start next week for a period of 15 days where the ambassadors, who have already been trained in different information modules on health promotion and disease prevention across 16 thematic areas, will conduct initial screening based on physical appearance and through a set of questionnaires. This will be followed by a two-month check-up by block-level doctors, after which tertiary care will be provided, if needed.
The initiative is significant because more than two-thirds of children and women in the state are anemic, according to the latest National Family Health Survey. Additionally, adolescent health has not received adequate attention in the state, experts said.
The resolution signed by Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Arun Singh said, “The health check of more than 2.19 lakh students in grades VI-XII in government and aided schools is underway to detect diseases like tuberculosis, anemia, skin diseases, vision problems, filariasis among others. These diseases go unchecked and later lead to various problems.
Officials pointed out that students up to primary school, class V, are not included in this campaign. Singh told The Indian Express: “This time the focus is on adolescent health. There are various programs to combat children’s health.
Officials said the whole campaign was being carried out under the health and welfare program launched by the central government in 2020. Rafat Farzana, who works as a consultant to the state’s national health mission responsible for Adolescent Health, said, “This is a first-of-its-kind in the state where screening will be done within a specified timeframe. The teachers, who are the ambassadors in this case, will then fill out a Google form with all the details. The data will then be transmitted to the block level and thereafter the doctors of the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBKS) program will take over. Medical advisors will join schools on their mobile for health checks.
Farzana added, “RKBS, a program launched by the Center, involves screening children from birth to 18 years old for the four Ds: birth defects, diseases, disabilities and developmental delays, covering 32 common health conditions. A child may be referred to a tertiary care center if needed. All expenses will be borne by the government.
Officials said students diagnosed with certain illnesses will receive follow-up care at the district level and the expenses will be covered by the government to reduce “out-of-pocket” health costs.