Health initiative takes hold in schools

Kaieteur News
January 29, 2007

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The Health Promoting Schools Initiative is progressing smoothly and expanding, according to Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy.

Already, school health clubs have been established in more than 40 schools in nine of the ten administrative regions of Guyana .

These clubs have established major programmes promoting positive lifestyles, and all embrace the fight against HIV/AIDS as important for the development of positive lifestyles.

A National Network of School Health Clubs (with both student and teacher representation) has been established, and quarterly meetings are held at all these schools.

Two national meetings, titled “Youth Leadership in Health” and the “National Network Meeting for School Health Clubs,” are on the cards.

Regional inter-club activities have taken place, and national and regional camps and workshops represent significant activities of the clubs.

Activities in the pilot school (Lodge Community High) are progressing; and last year, the health club was utilised as a tool to transform the school into a Health Promoting School . Some other notable achievements of the clubs include a water project to ensure safe water, by the Laluni School Health Club, and an environmental clean-up and awareness programme, by five schools in Region Six.

One of the youth groups involved in the Health Promoting Schools Initiative is the Mercy Wings Vocational Youth Centre, which is operated by the Roman Catholic Church.

Some of the young people who are members of this Centre are former school dropouts from poor communities.

Mercy Wings provides a non-formal education setting that enables them to gain technical skills for employment, as well as life skills, including Healthy Family Life Education and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Young people in the Mercy Wings health group form an important link with out-of-school youths in especially difficult circumstances, as their activities impact not only on changing their own behaviours , but also the behaviours of family and members of their local communities.

With support from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries / United Nations Population Fund (OPEC /UNFPA Fund), Government of Guyana Project, the Ministry of Health hopes to expand this pilot project to other communities.