School Health Integrated Programming

The SHIP project screens schoolchildren for health problems such as poor vision and worm infections, and distributes spectacles and treatments where needed.

A young woman sitting in a group of people holds an eye test chart.

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 began with a pilot in 2016, funded by the World Bank, to screen schoolchildren in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Senegal for health problems such as poor vision and worm infections. The pilot 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.

In November 2018, the SHIP project launched in Liberia, with funding from Dubai Cares, to run a three-year programme to train 2,400 teachers to screen children and distribute medication.

“School health is important for the development of children, and affects their ability to learn and succeed,” says 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.”

A school student has her eyes tested while wearing optical glasses: an eye health worker's hand is changing the lenses in the glasses.

Guidelines for school-based eye health programmes

These provide direction for organisations and schools who are planning and implementing vision screening programmes.

Read the guidelines
A school student in the classroom smiles while wearing his new glasses.
Ten-year-old Zil-e-Haider from Pakistan was given glasses after having his eyes screened as part of the programme.

Training teachers to spot eye problems

As part of SHIP, teachers are taught about major eye conditions affecting their region, and trained to examine their students and record their findings. Children with vision problems are then referred to a team of mobile optometric technicians, who can travel to the school and provide free spectacles to children who need them.

Any children found to be suffering from or at risk of worm infections are treated with deworming medication. The teachers are also trained to educate their students about eye health and personal hygiene, with the children encouraged to share what they learn with their families.

The pilot project in 2016 ran in partnership by Sightsavers, the World Bank, Imperial College London’s Partnership for Child Development and the Global Partnership for Education. The Liberia project launched in 2018 in partnership with the ministry of health and ministry of education, and funded by the Dubai Cares foundation.

Want to learn more about our work?

Sightsavers and eye health

More about the SHIP project

A girl has her eyes tested.
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Sightsavers’ eye health screening project in Pakistan is helping children see and learn all over the country. We listen to stories of some of the children we have helped.

January 2020
Illustration of an eye test.
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It’s all about the numbers: how economics is helping us to save sight in schools

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Guillaume Trotignon, July 2019
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How an innovative school programme is improving health in Liberia

Sightsavers' integrated school health programme aims to improve the lives of more than 76,000 children through deworming and eye screening.

Adoley Sonii, May 2019