By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) encouraged all public elementary and secondary schools nationwide to roll out a set of health activities that features the six major school health programs of the department.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in DepEd Memorandum No. 83 series of 2019, announced that the department will observe a nationwide Oplan Kalusugan sa DepEd One Health Week this coming July 22 to 26. The activity is pursuant to DepEd Order No. 28 s. of 2018 or the “Policy Guidelines on Oplan Kalusugan sa Department of Education (OK sa DepEd).”
Briones said that the “One Health Week” will be conducted to roll out a set of health activities which features – but not limited to— the six major DepEd school health programs that include the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP); the National Drug Education Program (NDEP); the Adolescent Reproductive Health (ARH) Program; the Water and Sanitation, and Hygiene Facilities (WASH) in Schools (WinS) Program; the Medical, Nursing, and Dental Services; and the School Mental Health Program.
During the “One Health Week,” Briones directed all regional offices (ROS), school division offices (SDOs), and elementary and secondary schools to undertake activities such as orientation of parents, communities, partners, and other stakeholders; delivery of age-appropriate health services; and launching of age-appropriate health and hygiene practices.
Other related activities that may be conducted by schools include the conduct of feeding activities and school gardening activities; exhibits/fora on the NDEP, ARH, school mental health, and comprehensive tobacco control, and open house of canteens featuring healthy food and beverage choices.
Briones noted that the “One Health Week” should be maximized to “mobilize the community and promote collaboration with partners and stakeholders, especially at the school level.” As such, she explained that “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.
The ROs and the SDOs, Briones said, should conduct kick-off activities on or before July 22 to signal the start of the “One Health Week” and “gain support from partners and stakeholders.” The national kick-off to be led by the Bureau of Learner Support Services-School Dental Health Division is scheduled on July 24.
Briones said that schools should coordinate with their division health personnel for the conduct of activities for “One Health Week.” Regional directors and SDS were also enjoined to support and monitor the activities.
Flagship Health Program
Introduced in 2017, the “OK sa DepEd” is considered the flagship health program of the department. “This OK sa DepEd Program is a converging effort where health plans, policies, programs, and activities are implemented to ensure that all school children are provided with basic primary health and dental care to allow them to attain their full educational potential,” Briones explained in an earlier statement.
Briones said that “OK sa DepEd” will also ensure that all DepEd school health personnel and school children practice healthier behavior that they can do on their own, and get linked up with health providers and local government units (LGUs) for child and adolescent health services.
In 2018, the “One Health Week” was introduced as the highlight of the formally launched “OK sa DepEd” Program. “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,” Briones said. “As such, OK sa DepEd is instrumental to the delivery of quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education,” she added.
The “OK sa DepEd” Program is spearheaded by the Office of the Undersecretary for Administration – through the School Health Division of the Bureau of Learner Support Services. For Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua, the “OK sa DepEd” is more than a “convergence of all our health programs” but 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.”
Nutrition Month Celebration
Meanwhile, DepEd enjoined all public schools anew to support the celebration of the 2019 Nutrition Month.
Briones, in a separate memorandum (DM no. 82 series of 2019) enjoined “all schools to participate” in the celebration of this year’s Nutrition Month which is led by the National Nutrition Council (NCC).
With theme, “Kumain ng Wasto at Maging Aktibo…Push Nation ‘To!” the 2019 celebration of National Nutrition this July aims to promote the “consumption of healthy foods and drinks”; “eating and choosing healthy choices regularly”; “making healthy eating habit and lifestyle”; and “being active and exercising daily.”
“To support this developmental endeavor of NC,” Briones said that DepEd “enjoins all schools to participate in this celebration.” However, she also emphasized that the engaged time-on-task policy of DepEd should still be observed.
DepEd is also requiring schools to submit a consolidated narrative report with pictures of the highlights the observance of the Nutrition Month to be prepared by the regional health and nutrition personnel for submission to the NCC regional offices.