Declining school health services place Jordan’s children at risk

School schools
(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Despite global health crises, the Kingdom’s schools provided dramatically fewer health services to students during the 2020–2021 school year compared to previous years, AmmanNet reported.اضافة اعلان

Jordan’s School Health Program is set up to offer periodic free exams for public school students, arranged by the Ministry of Health’s Directorate of School Health. School doctors can also refer students to a health center, and laboratory tests are provided free of charge.

Staff shortages: A cause of concernHowever, understaffing is a common problem for school health services worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and Jordan is no exception. The School Health Program has faced challenges in meeting its goal of providing a general practitioner to all public schools with over 500 students, and a dentist at all schools with over 1,000 students.

Ministry of Health data shows that checkups and referrals from Jordanian schools dropped immensely during the 2019–2020 school year — from over 30,000 checkups and referrals during the 2018–2019 year to a little over 10,000 in 2019–2020.

The number of laboratory tests also declined to around a 10th of their levels a decade ago. So has the frequency of water testing at schools.

Water contamination: A threat to Jordan’s schoolchildrenAs distance learning dominated the education sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of Water and Irrigation Raed Abu Al-Saud expressed concerns that school water reservoirs were becoming stagnant. However, schools only conducted 871 water tests during the 2020–2021 school year, a decrease of 70 percent compared to the year before.

Drinking water, however, is a major source of easily spread illnesses, and testing is a vital means of protecting the health of the Kingdom’s schoolchildren.

According to community medicine specialist Abdel Aziz Tayun, periodic monitoring of drinking water is a key measure in detecting contamination that can spread gastroenteritis, viral hepatitis A, or polio.

The health of Jordan’s schoolchildren is at risk ­­— and schools are in need of adequate health staff and protective measures to protect the Kingdom’s future teachers, doctors, and politicians.

The report by AmmanNet was produced in cooperation with Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism and the 100 Watts program supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands.

Read more National news
Jordan News