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School Health Program in Rwanda

Publication date:2021-05-13
 
By Twahirwa Nathalie, RN
School nurse, NPO Think About Education in Rwanda (NPO TER)
 

The body temperature screening in the morning

Activities of our school health program from April 2020 to March 2021 were held mainly at Umuco Mwiza School located in Kigali City. But we have also been monitoring health conditions of children in the Miyove village, located in Miyove, Gicumbi District, in the Northern Province of Rwanda.
 

Project period:

From April 2020 to March 2021
 

Staff names:

1.Dr. Akintije Simba Calliope, MBChB, PhD
Doctor/Country Director, NPO TER

2.Ms. Twahirwa Nathalie, RN
School nurse, NPO TER
 

Responsibilities:

  • Carrying out health examinations
  • Providing disease prevention and screening services
  • Sexual and reproductive health education
  • Hygiene education
  • Environmental education
  • Providing emergency health care (school infirmary services)
  • Monitoring nutritional status of children
  • Health guidance for children and parents
 

Local team structure (staff allocation and staff roles):

Under a medical doctor’s supervision and guidance, the school nurse in charge of the program oversees all school health-related activities.

The roles of the school nurse are:
  • To provide disease prevention and screening services
  • Educate 6th grade students about sexual and reproduction health
  • Educate students and teachers about hygiene (oral care, washing hands and bathing)
  • Providing emergency health care (school infirmary services)
  • Health guidance for children and parents
 

Number of the activity beneficiaries/students:

At Umuco Mwiza School, we are overseeing the health conditions of 250 students. At Miyove we also monitor 89 students and 22 pregnant and lactating mothers.
 

Activity summary:

1.In November 2020, the schools were re-opened after the closure due to COVID-19. From then onward, I, the school nurse, have been engaged in educating students about washing hands and social distancing. Also, I have been in charge of the morning body temperature screening for all students and other people who enter the school. It has been greatly appreciated by the school leaders because teachers are busy with their classes.

2.Also in November, I started providing school infirmary services to all students and school staff. In addition, I have been providing health education mainly on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among students. In these activities, I have received students with different health problems including:
  • Wounds and minor injuries
  • Rhinitis
  • Headache
  • Gastritis
  • Heart palpitations
  • Back pain, etc.

The regular health monitoring and school infirmary services are commended by teachers and headmaster. This is because since we started them, the number of students who were absent because of sickness has decreased tremendously. This improves the well-being of students and their academic performance.

3.In December, I organized a class to discuss reproductive health with students. It was a presentation related to what physical changes occur when children enter the adolescent period and what behavior they should adopt in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases through unprotected sexual intercourse. It was a good opportunity for students to ask questions they always had but could never ask. Students enjoyed the presentation and acquired a lot of knowledge from it. As a proof, many questions were raised during the session. This shows that a presentation like this is needed in order to increase educated students and well-committed children.
 

Activity photos:

Providing first aid to a student
who hurt one's leg

Lecture on sexual and reproductive health

 


Comments from school staff and students at Umuco Mwiza

1.Mr. Sinamenye Charles (school representative)

“I have been here at Umuco Mwiza for many years and in those years, we didn’t have a school nurse. Many students used to be absent due to various types of sickness. But since the nurse came to our school, the number of such students decreased significantly. We work with her to educate young generations about unplanned pregnancies and to protect them from sexually transmitted diseases and other non-communicable diseases. At this time of COVID-19, we regularly check the body temperature of students. This helps the school teachers to be on the safe side, minimizing the risk of infection. They can now deliver their lessons comfortably. We really appreciate NPO TER and its partners such AMDA for this unique opportunity for Rwandan children. We cannot end without thanking Dr. Calliope who initiated this program at our school and how he continuously supports the sustainability of it by mobilizing all possible resources from Japan to keep the initiative going. It is time to think about how the activity can be extended to other schools, especially in rural areas where children may be suffering from various health problems.”
 

2.Ms. Akaliza Belinda (2nd grade student)

“My name is Belinda. I am a 2nd grade primary school student at Umuco Mwiza. Sometimes, I used to have heart palpitations that interrupted my studies. But now when that happens, I go and see the nurse. She helps me out by taking me to somewhere I can rest until my heartbeat becomes normal. After that, I return to my classroom. Our school nurse is important for our health. Thank you!”
 

3.Mr. Gisa Arnaud (6th grade student)

“My name is Gisa Arnaud. I am a 6th grade student at Umuco Mwiza. Having a nurse at school is very important for us because we profit from the health care she gives us. For example, she provides us with some medicine and wound dressings. Last time when I hurt my arm, I didn’t go home but went to see the nurse instead. She gave me massage, and my arm is fine now. I really appreciate her kindness. Thank you.”
Report approved by:
Dr. Akintije Simba Calliope, MBChB, PhD
Doctor/Country Director, NPO TER
    •  Primary Health Care & Promotion of Health Awareness (Promotion of Health)
    •  Rwanda
    •  2021

 
 
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