The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has announced its upcoming School Health Education project, aimed at increasing U.A.E. school students' awareness on how to lead a healthy lifestyle in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, SEHA Ambulatory Health Services (SEHA) and du. This pilot project will begin this month and will run for one year in 18 government secondary schools across the U.A.E., with two in each of the emirates, Al Ain and the Western Region.
The School Health Education Project addresses the challenges in delivering health education to students and promotes the use of active, participatory learning activities for developing knowledge, attitudes and skills for students to make healthy choices.
Focus group discussions with school nurses and data collected from the health authorities will determine the health issues and behaviours, as well as the availability of capacities and resources in schools. Based on this, a manual for the delivery of health education workshops using a skills-based approach will be developed.
Alongside the development of participatory teaching methods for health education topics, as set by the Ministry of Health and SEHA, the programme will train school nurses to effectively apply this approach in the delivery of these sessions to students. Finally, this should lead to the development of an action plan to mainstream the skills-based health education programme across all government secondary schools in the U.A.E..
Dr. Ibrahim El- Ziq, Gulf Area Representative, UNICEF, said, "Research has shown that an active participatory learning approach is the most effective method for developing knowledge and bringing about positive change. Through the School Health Education project we hope to educate as many secondary school children as we can on the benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle which contributes to the overall strategy of the health and education authorities in the U.A.E.. We are grateful to our partners who are instrumental in bringing the project to life. Together, we are empowering children to shape their own lives in the future." Nasser Khalifa Al Budoor, Director of Dubai Medical District and Director of Minister's Office, Ministry of Health, said, "The Ministry of Health has always supported and encouraged the establishment of effective partnerships for implementing national plans on which the development of human resources and welfare depend. Due to the close relationship between health and education, we always aspire to having people who are aware of the methods of protecting their health, preventing disease, practicing healthy behaviour and maintaining an environment free of dangers.
"As capacity development is considered an essential component of every programme, this programme has been focused on building the capacity of all workers in health and education services especially school nurses and coordinators of schools activities.
"Health education is offered by using interactive methods as studies have shown that such methods are most capable of developing knowledge and practices as well as the skills and views of students and enable them to make correct decisions." Aisha Alsiri, Director of Nutrition and School Health, Ministry of Education, said, "One of the ministry's goals is to promote activities which develop life skills for students in order to create a healthy generation of students as they represent a significant proportion of the community as they are a quarter of the population.
"The school provides a great opportunity to take care of health and education by giving school workers health education skills to plan, implement, and evaluate school health programs, and to provide them with the skills and abilities necessary for early detection of health problems, as well as the skills to improve the school environment in order to promote the health of students. This is only possible through coordination with different healthy authorities." Mohamed Hawas Al Sadid, Chief Executive Officer, SEHA, said, "Ambulatory Healthcare Services entrusts its healthcare personnel to effect wide-reaching positive changes in society. Dissemination of highly communicative slogans and messages by our school nurses will go a long way in inculcating a healthy lifestyle among our kids. As the sole provider of health services in Abu Dhabi's public schools, AHS' school nurses are vital spokes in the wheel promoting good health and the success of our new generations, exemplifying the motto "Healthy Minds in Healthy Bodies." Hala Badri, Executive Vice President, Brand and Communications, du, commented, "As a U.A.E. national corporate entity, we believe that our role in the society goes above and beyond providing telecom services. During the recently-concluded U.A.E. cabinet retreat, the Vice President and Prime Minster and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, had rightfully commented, 'The delivery of better medical services is a joint task for the federal and local governments and the private sector.' "Guided by this vision, today we are taking this a step further by partnering with UNICEF, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and SEHA for the School Health Education project, with whom we share a collective vision of a healthier U.A.E.. We look forward to seeing our investment in the future of the U.A.E. pay off, both in the short and long-term, which would result in a healthier future generation," Badri concluded.