Ten years after launching Health Promoting Schools (HPS), continual support from schools, health staff and parents is expected to have a lasting impact on students and be part of their lifestyle.
This was highlighted by the Minster for Health and Medical Services, Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete at the Strengthening Health Promoting Schools: Experiences in the Pacific Islands workshop in Nadi.
Since 2009, his Ministry and the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts have collaborated with the World Health Organization to advocate for schools to become HPS.
“In doing so, we believe HPS is a strategic vehicle to promote positive development and healthy behaviours such as physical activity, physical fitness, balanced nutrition and prevent tobacco use and which will eventually lead to the reduction of non-communicable diseases in our nation,” he said.
“Activities currently being pursued through the HPS initiative in Fiji include promoting the importance of hand washing, proper sanitation and good hygiene practices (WASH), dental hygiene, making healthy food choices, and encouraging children to bring healthy food and snacks from home.”
The Minister noted that globally, over 90 percent of children in the primary school age, and over 80 percent of children in the lower secondary school age are enrolled in school where they spend 1/3 of their time.
He said this made schools a unique setting for preventive interventions, and school years as an important period to establish healthy lifestyles that would contribute to the improvement in the quality of life and longevity.