By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
To provide a venue for the convergence of its health programs, plans, policies, and activities, the Department of Education (DepEd) spearheads the nationwide conduct of the “One Health Week.”
The “One Health Week” is the highlight of the “OK sa DepEd Program” which was initially unveiled in December 2017 to “ensure that all learners are provided with the basic primary health and dental care to allow them to attain their full educational potential.”
“We want to promote and provide all learners and DepEd personnel with a sustainable, holistic school health and nutrition program towards healthier behaviors and better learning outcomes,” said DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones in a statement. “As such, OK sa DepEd is instrumental to the delivery of quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education,” she added.
The “One Health Week” set to roll out a set of health activities featuring, but not limited to, the five major DepEd school health programs: School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP); National Drug Education Program (NDEP); Adolescent Reproductive Health Education (ARH); Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools (WinS) Program; and medical, nursing, and dental services.
It is spearheaded by the Office of the Undersecretary for Administration, through the School Health Division of the Bureau of Learner Support Services. More than a convergence of all of DepEd’s health programs, Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua said that it is “also an opportunity for us to identify health concerns in our schools and also set baseline data on the health of our learners.” This information, he added, “will prove vital in the formulation of better policies and identify areas of concern.”
DepEd said that under the “One Health Week,” the regional and division offices, and elementary and secondary schools are “directed to undertake initiatives” such as orientation of parents, communities, partners and other stakeholders; school health and age-appropriate services; launching of age-appropriate health and hygiene practices; rapid classroom inspection, conduct of daily cleaning and the needed repair or maintenance; kick-off of activities such as the SBFP and the Gulayan sa Paaralan; exhibits/forums on the NDEP, ARH, mental health, and tobacco control; and open house of canteens featuring healthy food and beverage choices.
To maximize opportunities for better and wider coverage of health and nutrition services delivery, DepEd said that “OK sa DepEd” and the “One Health Week” shall also mobilize the community and promote collaboration with partners and stakeholders, especially at the school level.
“As such, the schools are tasked to network with partners within their localities for various health endeavors such as the improvement and maintenance of health facilities; provision of health and nutrition services including manpower, medicines, and equipment; and finalization of deliverables and schedule of joint health activities for the school year,” DepEd said.
Briones issued the policy and guidelines on the OK sa DepEd through DepEd Order No. 28, 2018 dated July 6, 2018 to ensure effective and efficient implementation, as well as the sustainability of the program.
The issuance includes the strategies and activities (management and institutional arrangements, planning and targeting, coordination with partners, orientation of personnel, conduct of the “One Health Week,” continuation of the health and nutrition services and activities, funding, reporting and recording, and monitoring and evaluation), roles and responsibilities of the field offices, and prohibited acts and undertakings.