The beginning of the new academic year also sets in motion parental concerns of the health and safety of their wards. The Ministry of Health and doctors advise parents as well as school staff to pay more attention to the health of the children.
Doctors feel that school reopening often brings a host of health issues like flu, fever, diarrhoea as children face summer heat, consume food from eateries and are careless about cleanliness. The parents are also worried about safety on the school bus. The Royal Oman Police (ROP) has advised all drivers as well as assistants on the buses to check to avoid risks of asphyxiation inside the bus as the tiny tots tend to fall asleep often after hectic school hours.
Dr Hilal bin Ali al Sabti, Minister of Health, after careful review of the national plan for school and university health for this year, said the health of our children is the responsibility of each one of us, and we are all partners in promoting it and that promoting the health of school-age students will reflect positively on the general health of the community.
“To prioritise children‘s health as schools reopen, it is crucial to enforce hygiene protocols such as frequent handwashing and respiratory etiquette. Schools should conduct regular health check-ups, and provide comprehensive health education. Physical activity and healthy eating should be encouraged, while mental health support and communication with parents are essential,” said Dr Abood Sawafy of Buraimi University.
Experts advocate that the health of students is one of the most important priorities.
School children between the ages of 5 and 19 years represent about 31 per cent of the total population of Oman, according to 2020 estimates.
According to the national strategy for school health, updated in line with the priorities of Oman Vision 2040, there are 732 male and female nurses in government schools across Oman.
The Ministry of Health believes that promoting the message of healthy living through schools and universities is an investment for the future. It has collaborated with the Ministry of Education and other private and public bodies for a healthy generation of kids.
Dr Dilip Kumar Singhvi, internal medicine specialist, feels that good hydration, good nutrition, hygienic environment are essential to help in controlling infections among school children.
“Continuous awareness on good mental and physical health preparation will help the child immensely to adjust to the new routine, and increasing awareness about social distancing, good hygiene, all will help the children protect themselves against infections and other respiratory issues.”
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