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Parasitol Today. 1996 Aug;12(8):suppl 1-16.

Schools for health: Focus on health, education and the school-age child.

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Centre for the Epidemiology of Infectious Disease, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, UK.


Mortality in children under five years old has been dramatically reduced through successful programmes of immunization and control of diarrhoeal diseases. UNICEF estimates that some 90% of children in developing regions now survive to reach school age. These survivors face new and continuing threats to their health, which can affect their physical development and may also prevent them taking full advantage of their only opportunity for formal education. The physical and mental growth of the 1000 million school-age children today will influence how the world is shaped for coming generations. Yet the health problems of this age group have received little attention. Recognizing the importance of this age group, a workshop funded by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation was held 10-13 November 1994 in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, USA, to review what is known about the health of school-age children, what is or can be done to improve their health, and what steps must be taken to find ways to improve the health and educational achievement of this important segment of the world's population. Don Bundy and Helen Guyatt here report on the workshop, which had three major conclusions: (1) the school-age children of developing countries face health problems that remain neglected and poorly understood; (2) an important research need is to develop simpler means of monitoring the health status of school-age children and evaluating the impact of public health interventions in this age group; and (3) two strategies are available to address this public health problem. The first is to develop further and test programmes that appear, from available evidence and pilot studies, to offer effective means of improving the health of this age group at reasonable cost, and to be sustainable; and the second is, over a longer term, to develop the capacity within countries to assess the health problems of school-age children and devise cost-effective strategies to address these problems. This report attempts, in brief form, to survey what is known about the health status of school-age children, to discuss the possible benefits to health and learning that accrue from health interventions, and to suggest some avenues currently available for both research and application.

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