Providing healthcare facilities to the underprivileged

Saira School Health Services

SCHOOL AND  COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE PROGRAMME

“To inform, educate and empower the community to lead healthier and better lives.”

Saira Memorial Hospital, in its position as a social service provider, support groups and organisations serving the general public in the fields of education and healthcare. Presently, the Hospital supports Sharaf-ud-Din Goheer (SG) Public Girls High School in Sheikhupura. The School, with more than 800 students, was established by the Trustees of the Saira Memorial Hospital to support the education of children, especially girls in an underprivileged neighbourhood.

With its background of service in the healthcare and education sectors, Saira Memorial Hospital is in a unique position to make a contribution in advancing healthcare awareness amongst students and, implementing a school based preventive healthcare programme, with a mission “to inform, educate and empower the community to lead healthier and better lives.”

To implement its mission the SMH School and Community Health Care Programme works on two fronts of healthcare:

  1. Preventive Healthcare Programme
  2. Health Awareness Programme

A: Preventive Healthcare Programme

Research has now clearly established that healthy children grow into healthy young adults, with the early detection playing a vital role in health preservation and disease prevention. Preventing disease, and detecting it early, is the cornerstone of any healthcare programme and for its implementation the programme has been launched at Sharaf ud Goheer Girls Public High School, Sheikhupura. With additional resources, as they become available, this service will be extended to the schools located in the under-served communities in the vicinity of the Hospital.

Students at the partner school are given a bi-annual general medical check-up. The findings, along with all personal details, including photograph of the child, form part of the child’s record. The data, with a unique medical record number for each child, is maintained at the central office of the Saira Memorial Hospital School and Community Healthcare Programme, and is available to the parents of the child.

The bi-annual medical check-up includes the following:

  • General Physical examination
  • Height and weight chart and recording of age related development milestones.
  • Blood Group
  • Eyesight testing
  • Test for colour blindness
  • ENT examination to detect cases of tonsillitis and enlarged adenoids which are the commonest conditions for a child being frequently absent from school.

The medical check-up is conducted by doctors and nursing staff from Saira Memorial Hospital assisted by staff of School and Community Healthcare Programme. The primary objective of this exercise is to confirm that the child growth is normal and age related development milestones are attained. Many children have entirely treatable conditions like weak eyesight, hearing deficit because of glue ear, and other correctable conditions which hold back their normal progression in the class. The bi annual medical check is designed for early detection of such conditions and preventing their progression into more serious illnesses.

In case of a suspected problem, or a deficit requiring further intervention, it is brought to the notice of the school management who are required to inform the child’s parents. If the specific treatment expertise is available at Saira Memorial Hospital, an offer is made to the parents to get treatment at SMH. Depending on the financial status of the parents, the treatment offered is fully or partially subsidised.

B: Health Awareness Programme

The primary objective of the programme is as follows:

  1. To create awareness about communicable diseases, especially water borne diseases, and importance of personal hygiene and sanitation in disease prevention.
  2. To educate and inform children, parents and teachers of importance of nutrition in maintaining good health and preventing disease.
  3. To create awareness amongst the children of the importance of healthy habits in avoiding disease and maintaining good health.

Unhealthy eating habits and childhood obesity have been implicated in chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. The children having unhealthy foods and snacks are more prone to infections, colds, coughs and flus, compared to children who eat more healthy foods. This is a major cause of absence from classes.

Special eye-catching innovative posters, flyers, slides and multi-media messages inform the children and their teachers about the importance of healthy eating.

For getting the message across, special tailor made easy to understand multi-media presentations, which can hold the child’s imagination and are informative and interesting, are used to get the message across effectively. We are also planning interactive sessions at the partner schools, where specially selected guest speakers will highlight the importance of healthy eating in disease prevention.

We also aim to educate the children about the importance of vaccination in general and particularly about the hazards of not drinking the polio drops. Slide presentations, interactive sessions and animation videos shall be used to achieve this objective. As a next step the children, on the basis of the information imparted, shall be asked to design their own messages based on their understanding. This facet of the programme, wherein the children will design their own messages, shall serve as the cornerstone of the programme. The best of the posters designed in the competition shall be printed and will serve as the material to propagate this message spearheaded by the children themselves. The particular message shall then be disseminated in the neighbourhood. The children, accompanied by School Healthcare Programme Staff and teachers will distribute these posters and additional material to spread awareness amongst the community at large.

The various awareness campaigns to be initially conducted shall be as follows:

The importance of hand washing and its role in preventing viral illnesses, typhoid and hepatitis.

  1. The importance of oral hygiene.
  2. The importance of a clean environment and environmental protection, hazards of littering and environmental degradation.
  3. Vaccination awareness.
  4. Role of preventive care and medical check-ups in maintenance of health.
  5. The role of nutrition and healthy eating in child health with information on what foods are healthy and what foods and eatables are best avoided.

As the number of partner schools expand a Media Van will be solely dedicated to visiting the schools and showing specially prepared documentaries and slide shows to the students with the view to educate the children about the importance of preventive healthcare.

In spite of great leaps and advancement in healthcare in the past few decades the disease prevalence and incidence of chronic, degenerative and infectious diseases has shown no signs of abating. As a matter of fact, a look at the hospitals all over the country will attest to the fact that disease prevalence, even after factoring in the population growth, has increased astronomically. A large number of illnesses are completely preventable and proper preventive measures at the right time are of vital importance to reduce the incidence of disease and promote wellness.

We appeal to all those who identify with this programme to come forward and support us expand and improve this programme enabling us to reach more and more schools.