Health Screening Programs to better health

Nimish Thaker
India sits on a ticking health time bomb, with one of the largest incidences of population suffering from Diabetes, Hypertension, Cardio-vascular and mental health issues. Right attitudes and behaviour towards health can bring about a visible and lasting change. There is perhaps no better place towards inculcating awareness, than in schools. The most important life skills that schools can help develop are towards ones’ health, hygiene and safety.

Our recently released health report titled “Enhancing Effectiveness and Impact of Schools”, reveals a substantial percentage of children in the age group two to seventeen years suffering health abnormalities in the areas of BMI (obesity/underweight), Vision (myopia/hyperopia), Dental (decay/cavities), followed by ENT, hygiene related issues. In the words of my colleague and Jarma Wellness Co-Founder, Dr Akshay Shah, “Our health screening data shows a clear need for focused effort to improve health of our young people through preventive healthcare. A continued failure to act will have serious ramifications for the health of generations to come.”  Health Screening Programs to better health

A latest study done across 20 cities shows that health screening programs go a long way in tackling problems at an early stage

Our Health report is based on data from 176,000 student data screenings covering Pre-Primary centres and K-12 Schools spread over 20 cities in India. Some of our key observations:

Focus on Nutritional Value of what the child eats and not the quantity:

30% of students have been found with Abnormal BMI. 19% of all students have been found to be either obese or overweight.

In schools belonging to higher socio-economic backgrounds the number of Obese or Overweight children is at 21%.

Our data shows a high jump in the Obese or Overweight children as we move from Pre-Primary to Primary.

Our discussions with parents indicate that most parents are still concerned about the quantity of food instead of nutritional value

Schools can play an important role here by providing the right kind of food and nutrition at the school cafeteria.

Regular eye-checkups are the key:

25.5% of all students screened by us show non-normal vision.

One in two children will potentially need glasses.

Non-normal vision was observed in 30% of all children wearing glasses, clearly indicating the need of regular vision screening.

If it doesn’t pain there is no need to see a Dentist:

More than 50% of all students were found with Dental problems, 27% of students were found to have Caries.

Our follow-up screening results indicate that a lot of parents still believe that if the child does not complain of tooth-ache, there is no need to take any corrective action.

Good Hygiene is not given:

14% of students were observed with Poor Hygiene (Oral, Hair, Nail or Ear).

Schools belonging to higher socio-economic background had 13% students with poor hygiene as compared to 20% students belonging to lower socio-economic background. Just because a child belongs to a higher socio-economic strata does not mean will have good hygiene. Awareness & continuous re-enforcement of hygiene is the key.

Levels of activity are dipping:

Our spirometry readings indicate that 63% of students have readings of less than the specified reading.

Reducing levels of physical activity, increasing time spent on digital devices was one of the top refrains from parents during our interactions.

Schools can play an important role in ensuring higher levels of physical activities.

Lesser levels of physical activities coupled with high usage of digital devices is leading to higher levels of anxiety, stress and depression amongst the young population.

Our data clearly indicates much better ‘action taken’ percentages by parents in schools where we have been conducting the health screening for multiple years indicating that higher and continuous awareness leads to improving health outcomes.

Schools can play a very important role in developing awareness and the right attitude towards ones health from a young age. It is, therefore, imperative that schools take cognizance of this and initiate/continue to invest in health screening programs for students.

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