Last January, AllizHealth launched its unique “School Health Program”. Given our focus on preventive care, schools with their organized structure and governance, provide us a perfect platform to push this agenda. Starting young gives preventive care concept the true significance it deserves. Early detection of problems can lead to better diagnosis and complete cure. Same time, a child, if taught the virtues of healthy living, grows to be a healthy adult and less prone to lifestyle diseases.
Taking cognizance of this fact, some of the school boards, such as CBSE, have made it mandatory for all CBSE affiliated schools to conduct two student health check-ups every year, provide a health report to parents at end of every academic year and also, maintain he immunization records of children. A wonderful initiative and a step in the right direction. However, in order for such an initiative to be successful, few issues need to be addressed.
Schools, currently, have limited to no ability to maintain digitized records. Health information is collected and stored in hard copy formats, which over a period of time, could become tough to maintain. Same time schools, with limited resources at hand, are often finding it difficult to focus and conduct health check-ups. A school with 1000 students might need to devote 8 to 10 working days towards such camps and finds it tough to allocate resources. Lastly, and most importantly, due to lack of digitization of such information, there is no ability to view health trends, design targeted health programs or follow-up with parents of children identified with a need for further medical evaluation. This certainly reduces the efficacy of such initiatives and at times, makes it a mere formality.
In the past 10 months, we have had a chance to partner and work with some of the leading pre and K-12 schools in Bangalore, Pune and New Delhi. Our goal was to address and plug some of the gaps identified above. We believe that by leveraging technology, many of these challenges can be overcome and the program could be made more meaningful and beneficial to children, their parents and the schools. This one of a kind initiative involved working with schools to conduct health assessments of all children. Post assessment, all such information was digitized and then analysed to figure health trends and identify children needing further care.
As part of our program, children are assessed on several health parameters including, BMI, Blood Pressure, Vision, Dental, Skin, ENT, Hair, Chest, Cardiovascular and checks for Iron, Vitamin A and D deficiencies. Prior to such assessments, we encourage parents to share additional information on child’s existing medical condition and their family’s health history. This helps us flag cases which needs closer monitoring. All assessments are carried out by leading child specialists from the city and parents also get an opportunity to interact with the doctors.
Post assessment, we digitize all such information and provide parents an option to access to our secured child health portal. Using the portal, they can not only view child’s health assessment report, but, also use the same to store child’s health information, immunization details, build self and family health profile and connect with health care specialists. Schools can use our portal to view overall assessment reports, children needing further attention and reason for same and also figure any particular health trend.
Technicalities apart, by partnering with various schools and using a standardized method for assessments, we are trying to bring in an uniformity in these programs and make it more easy for health policy makers to have a better understating of issues prevalent in more affluent sections.
There is a popular misconception that only children from lesser privileged section have health issues and the privileged ones are always well taken care of. While it is true to some extent, our program revealed a different picture as well. If we consider the privileged section of society with access to best care, how many parents do actually take their children for a preventive check-up? Isn’t it most of the time, curative? Certain issues such as dental, vision and cardiovascular, cuts across segments and as is prevalent in privileged children as with the underprivileged. While on one side there is an issue of malnutrition, the other side has a growing concern on childhood obesity and all the associated problems.
If there can be marks for sports, it’s time we have marks for health as well for healthy children certainly learn better.