Over 25,000 school-going children are set to benefit from a health assessment to be conducted in eight counties in arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya.
The assessment being funded by UNICEF, is a partnership between World Vision and the ministries of health and education.
World Vision Kenya’s operations director Daniel Mwebi says the assessment aims to find out the status of health of the school children in the targeted counties.
“The assessment will take one week after which we should be able to know the state of health of children in the counties that will be assessed,” says Mwebi.
In a press release during the flagging off of 21 vehicles that will be used in the assessment in the counties of Wajir, Mandera, Turkana, Garissa, Tana River, Samburu, Marsabit and Isiolo stated that the information gathered will inform targeted interventions to improve the health and nutrition of 25,000 children in arid and semi-arid lands.
The Ministry of Health will focus on checking health problems facing school children through the use of community health workers and teachers. Ngare Karani from the ministry said that part of the programme will include screen of conditions of learners’ visual, hearing, skin infections, immunization, nutrition and chronic health problems.
World Vision states that the school Health Assessment Team has formed linkages with the community where children identified with health issues are referred and closely monitored by the community health workers and the staff from the ministry of health at various health centres within the community.
Peter Gachagi of the Ministry of Education Science and Technology stated that the government has invested heavily in education and the assessment will serve to improve service delivery.
“We should be able to identify these problems and provide solutions so that the children are kept in school,” said Gachagi.
The team that will carry out the assessment was trained last week and will be act as trainers of trainers during the exercise. The county governments will be involved in the exercise since health is a devolved function.
World Vision Kenya which is the implementing organisation notes that school age children of 5-19 years old, constitute 48 percent of the total Kenyan population. They suffer varying but significant degrees of ill health, nutritional deficiencies and morbidity.
According to statistics, a staggering one in 12 children living in Kenya dies before their fifth birthday. It is estimated that around half of these deaths are related to hunger or ill health. The ill health is partly due to poor sanitation water hygiene related factors, housing factors, parasitic infections, macro and micronutrient deficiencies, HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.