By Joanna Hartley
EXCLUSIVE: Children at 330 schools will undergo tests for obesity, diabetes.
Annual health checks will be introduced for Abu Dhabi school children this month, as part of the preventive arm of ongoing primary healthcare reforms.
Children of all ages across 330 schools will undergo physical examinations including screens for obesity, diabetes and thalassaemia, and will be referred to a doctor if they test positive, said John Evangelista, director of Ambulatory Healthcare Services (AHS).
One school nurse will be posted permanently at each school to carry out the checks, implement vaccination programmes and undertake health education schemes, Evangelista said. “They will have annual physical examinations and dental examinations and if there is something that needs to be referred then the nurse will do that,” Medical Times reported on Thursday.
“Anything that happens in the school, such as emergencies, and providing a programme of vaccination and health education, which will include diet.”
Fatima Al Rifai, chief nurse at the Ministry of Health, welcomed the move. “This is excellent. It is an area [where] nursing can give a lot, community health provision and children’s health needs.”
AHS is recruiting a further 200 school nurses to staff the initiative. The recruits are expected to include a mixture of newly-qualified local nurses, and more experienced nurses from the Philippines, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.
Those without specific qualifications in school nursing will receive in-house training and will be mentored by a clinical supervisor, Evangelista added. “At present nurses manage two or three schools, but we aim to get them all [in post] by the end of the year, when we will have reached a one-to-one ratio,” he said.