Effective school health programmes
An effective school health programme can be one of the most cost effective investments a nation can make to simultaneously improve education and health. WHO promotes school health programmes as a strategic means to prevent important health risks among youth and to engage the education sector in efforts to change the educational, social, economic and political conditions that affect risk.
School health and youth health promotion: Facts
- Worm infections are the greatest cause of disease among 5-14 year old children.
- Vitamin A deficiency is the single greatest cause of preventable childhood blindness.
- Iodine deficiency is the single most common preventable cause of mental retardation and brain damage in children.
- Injury is the leading cause of death and disability among school-age youth.
- One out of two young people who start and continue to smoke will be killed by tobacco-related illness.
- Worldwide, 5% of all deaths of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 are attributable to alcohol use.
- In some countries, up to 60% of all new HIV infections occur among 15-24 year olds.
All of the above health problems can be prevented or significantly reduced through effective school health and youth health programmes.
Preventing leading causes of premature death, disease and disability
Many of today’s and tomorrow’s leading causes of death, disease and disability (cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases, depression, violence, substance abuse, injuries, nutritional deficiencies, HIV/AIDS/STI and helminth infections) can be significantly reduced by preventing six interrelated categories of behaviour, that are initiated during youth and fostered by social and political policies and conditions:
- tobacco use
- behaviour that results in injury and violence
- alcohol and substance use
- dietary and hygienic practices that cause disease
- sedentary lifestyle
- sexual behaviour that causes unintended pregnancy and disease