School Health Integrated Programming

The SHIP project screened schoolchildren in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Senegal for health problems such as poor vision and worm infections, and distributed spectacles and treatments where needed.

A child has her eyes tested at a school in Cambodia as part of the SHIP project.

Children in poorer countries miss a combined 500 million days of school every year because of common issues such as worm infections, short-sightedness or poor nutrition.

Yet these problems can be easily diagnosed and treated if children have access to reliable health services.

The School Health Integrated Programming (SHIP) project, which ran throughout 2016, screened schoolchildren in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Senegal for health problems such as poor vision and worm infections. It aimed to raise awareness, provide treatment and encourage governments to improve health and nutrition in schools: the goal was to reduce absenteeism and drop-out rates, and boost children’s educational prospects.

“School health is important for the development of children, and affects their ability to learn and succeed,” said World Bank Senior Director for Education Claudia Costin. “Improving the health and nutritional status of school-age children has a significant impact on the timing of their enrollment, the frequency of their attendance, and their performance in school.”

teachers were trained in 158 schools
children received deworming medication
children were screened for eye problems
Six students smile and hold up peace signs with their fingers, all are trying on glasses.
All photos ©Claire Eggers/Sightsavers 2016

Training teachers to spot eye problems

The project ran in partnership by Sightsavers, the World Bank, Imperial College London’s Partnership for Child Development and the Global Partnership for Education between January 2016 and December 2016.

During the year, teachers were taught about major eye conditions affecting their region, and trained to examine their students and record their findings. Children with vision problems were then given free spectacles, while those suffering from or at risk of worm infections were treated with deworming medication. The teachers were also trained to educate their students about eye health and personal hygiene, with the children encouraged to share what they had learned with their families.

A close up photo of Buin Non.

Bin Nou’s story

Bin Nou, a 35-year-old headteacher from Siem Reap in Cambodia, was one of those who took part in the SHIP project. “Our villages don’t have easy access to eye care providers,” she explains. “Glasses are not available locally, so vision problems often remain uncorrected.”

During her training, Nou was taught about different eye conditions, and learned how to use a vision screening kit to examine her students’ eyes. She can now help children with vision problems who could then be given spectacles or referred to a specialist for further treatment if necessary.

After completing her training, Nou tested the eyesight of all 205 children in her school and identified one child who needed glasses. The student was offered a selection of differently coloured frames to choose from – while she was shy at first about wearing her new spectacles, Nou helped to reassure her.

As part of the programme, Nou’s eyes were also tested: after years of suffering from poor vision, she discovered she needed spectacles and was given her first pair of glasses.

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