With the dramatic increase in the number of protracted and complex crises around the world, it is important to consider how health contributes to improved learning outcomes. Health and education have a mutually reinforcing effect on one another; those who are of ill health experience poor mental and educational development, and proper health education can ensure that students are better able to maintain good health. Due to this relationship, it is important to ensure that students are learning in a healthy and safe environment so that they can achieve a better health status, and therefore have higher attendance rates and superior educational attainment.
However, global crises make these goals difficult to achieve. In order to work towards attaining them, it is imperative that there is a delivery of a range of services (preventative and primary care, as well as outbreak response and tertiary treatment) which ensures that students have a complete physical, mental and social well-being that bolsters their ability to learn, even in the midst of a crisis. Health care and health education must also adapt to be culturally sensitive and to fit the specific needs of the students in their emergency settings.
In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 3 whose goal is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for everyone at all ages. Not only does this goal address the provision of quality health care, but it also calls attention to improving health knowledge and promoting health seeking behaviors. However, emergency settings complicate the ability to execute these services or provide such knowledge. Any disaster, whether it is natural or man-made, affects the health of the population and brings a substantial loss and disruption to public health systems. Apart from the direct impact from hazards such as trauma or injuries, disasters exacerbate the most common causes of childhood illness and death, including diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and malnutrition. In addition, fragile or disrupted essential services such as water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH), food and nutrition, health systems and the movements of people can put communities at risk of epidemic prone diseases and malnutrition.
NGOs working in crisis settings have identified education to be a life saver for children. Children are better able to cope with trauma through the stability and organized structure that schools offer. Schools offer an avenue for protection and safety from potential dangers, abuses of various forms, and exploitation. In schools, children are able to access interventions such as food, water, sanitation, counseling, or referral for health care and treatment. Education helps to boost the economic potential of learners, promote equality and contribute to restoring peace and stability. Due to this, all efforts have to be exerted to transform schools into not only friendly and safe but more so healthy spaces.
This Health collection seeks to highlight the priority health and public health thematic areas that could have a positive bearing on learning outcomes for learners in emergency situations. Key health issues and concerns will be identified and the recommended interventions, guidelines and protocols will be suggested. In addition, evidence-based scalable interventions are proposed. This brief is intended for individuals and stakeholders working to improve Education in Emergencies (EiE) through improved health interventions in humanitarian action.
In developing countries an estimated 500 million days of school per year are lost due to sickness.
The most common poor health conditions in school-age children, including malaria, malnutrition, worm infection and anemia, can reduce their intellectual quotient (IQ) between 3.7 and 6 points.
Approximately 400 million school-age children suffer from worm infections, the highest number in any age group.
Children of mothers with secondary education or higher are twice as likely to survive beyond age 5 as those whose mothers have no education.
A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past age 5.
Children of educated mothers are more likely to be vaccinated and less likely to be stunted because of malnourishment. In Indonesia, child vaccination rates are 19% when mothers have no education. This increases to 68% when mothers have at least a secondary school education.
HIV and AIDS account for 77% of the teacher shortage in countries with high HIV rates.
Projections suggest that by 2050, the number of lives lost each year because of a failure to provide adequate access to quality education would equal those lost today to HIV and malaria, two of the most deadly global diseases. By 2050, population growth would be at least 15 percent higher than if all children were learning – a critical factor in development as a whole. (source)
This collection was developed with the support of Aysha Joan Liagamula Kayegeri, Common Wealth Scholar.