DepEd starts health care program next school year

April 12, 2009 7:57 am 

MANILA, April 11 — Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said that starting next school year, the Department of Education (DepEd) will implement the `Essential Health Care Project’ (EHCP) to reduce absenteeism among schoolchildren due to oral health problems and other infectious diseases.

Lapus said the EHCP program, which was pilot-tested at the Cristo Rey Elementary School in Capas, Tarlac, hoped to address the common problem among schoolchildren, such as toothache, diarrhea, respiratory ailments and soil-transmitted worm infections, which caused absenteeism and dropping-out of school.

“It is socially accepted, often neglected when it fact it can be prevented at a low cost," Lapus said adding that "these disease are considered normal despite their huge impact on the physical and mental development of children, their school performance and their quality of life.”

Lapus said that with the full implementation of the program, infectious diseases would be reduced by about 30 percent to 50 percent while dental problems by 40 percent to 50 percent.

Studies by DepEd showed that the diseases could be controlled by simple, cost-effective preventive measures implemented on a mass-scale in schools and daycare centers, Lapus said.

He said the program benefited some 600,000 children in 20 provinces last year. The DepEd, the local government units and the private sector introduced the program recently in Tarlac.

Under the program, the DepEd distributes to pre-school children up to Grade 6 packages that contain toothbrushes, toothpastes and soaps. Each package costs P25.

Lapus said the department would continue the de-worming and hand-washing activities as well as the distribution of oral health care packages until it could make personal hygiene and oral health a habit among school children.

Under the program, participating schools conduct activities such as daily hand-washing with soap and water daily. Nail-cutters are made available in classrooms to keep the fingernails of schoolchildren groomed. The participating schools also supervise the tooth-brushing drills, using fluoride toothpaste, inside the schools.

The Department of Health provides the deworming tablets while school health personnel administer the activity twice a year.(PNA)

RMA/HCT

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