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Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has launched a health policy for schools in the emirate with an aim to create a safe, healthy and motivating environment for pupils.

The comprehensive policy has three main components: disease prevention and early detection, health information 
and research systems, and encouraging students to lead a healthy lifestyle. 

12 programmes

As part of the policy, the authority will launch 12 programmes based on these three components. They are applicable to private schools in the emirate. These include programmes to encourage students to eat five portions of vegetables and fruits a day; encourage physical activity to 150 minutes a week, promote compliance with essential immunisation plans, increase awareness of screening initiatives for non-communicable diseases, early detection programmes for dental and visual problems and obesity, supervise health schemes according to DHA standards, build a database system and an integrated health information systems through HASANA and students’ electronic files, accredit school health services, research and study school health plans, for unified school infrastructure, unification of emergency and disaster safety procedures and unification and circulation of a psychological counselling support plan. 

By implementing these programmes DHA aims to increase fruit and vegetable intake among students aged 7-15 years, encourage healthier food consumption, increase physical activity among students aged 7-15 years and decrease obesity among students aged 7-15 years in line with Dubai Plan 2021 and UAE Vision 2021.

Healthy schools

“In line with the DHA Health Strategy 2016-2021, we are working on implementing a number of strategies to unify policies and processes across the key health sector,” said His Excellency Humaid Al Qutami, Chairman of the Board and Director General of DHA. 

“Undoubtedly, school health is a priority for DHA and the launch of this comprehensive strategy is a step in the right direction, as it will streamline the functioning of key areas across schools in Dubai to create a safe, healthy, positive and motivating school environment. 

“Children are the youngest members of society and they are the future and therefore their health and well-being needs particular emphasis.”

Holistic approach

Dr Manal Al Taryam, CEO of Primary Healthcare Sector at DHA, said, “A holistic school health environment is needed to protect children and bring out the best in them. “We designed this policy after carefully considering all these factors. We have worked with various governmental authorities in the UAE to jointly design a truly comprehensive school health policy.” 

Dr Nahed Monsef, Director of Health Affairs Department at DHA, said, “Immunisation is an important way of protecting children from some illnesses including those that suddenly become a bigger threat. “While the authority has already in place several initiatives, a wider five-year policy will be extremely comprehensive.

The policy was developed in collaboration with our strategic stakeholders such as Ministry of Health and Prevention, Ministry of Education, KHDA, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Sports Council as well as the parents and community. Dr Nusaiba Al Behandy, Head of Schools and Educational Institutions Health Unit at DHA said: “For a successful school health policy, we need to ensure all stakeholders including parents understand the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.”