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Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) Schools and Educational Institutions Health Unit recently held a workshop for school staff to educate them on skills needed to assist children with health conditions. More than 400 participants including doctors, nurses, teachers and the school management team attended the workshop.
The training was conducted by school health experts, members from the Noor Dubai Foundation, doctors from Dubai Diabetes Centre, experts from the Mental Health Programme, DHA’s public health and safety department and primary healthcare sector. International school health experts from the UK also took part in the workshop.

“The aim of holding such regular workshops stems from the DHA’s vision of providing high-quality medical services for students and regular training help keep school staff up-to-date with the latest in managing the health, social, behavioral and emotional needs of children,” says Dr Manal Taryam, CEO of Primary Healthcare at DHA. She adds that the training is in line with the DHA’s school health policy. 

A tailored approach

Dr Nusaiba Shaker Al Behandy, Acting Head of School and Educational Institutions Health Unit at DHA, says, “This workshop was specifically tailored to discuss how to assist students with medical conditions. We discussed at length how to support people of determination; this includes students who are grappling with learning disabilities and those who are physically challenged. We discussed the skills that the school staff must have or develop to assist such children. 

“The workshop discussed all aspects of autism and disorders such as ADHD, which often can be confused for lack of attention span but once identified can help a child grow in their confidence and learning journey. Creating a supportive environment to bring out the best in people of determination is our duty and the workshop provided information on how school staff can achieve this.”

Managing emergencies

The workshop also discussed at length ways to manage medical emergencies for children with diabetes, visually impaired children, those with severe allergies and other conditions.

Dr Hamid Y. Hussein, Deputy Director of the School and Educational Institutions Health Unit at DHA, discussed the skills required by school staff to manage children with autism in the most positive manner and to help them flourish in the best way they can.

Dr Waleed Hasan Al Faisal, Public Health Specialist in the Schools and Educational Institutions Health Unit at DHA’s Primary Healthcare Sector, highlights the importance of health screening and individualised medical care for pupils. 

“Children with diabetes need proper management in a school setting,” he says with reference to diabetic care tailored for each pupil. “Health risks such as hypoglycaemia [low blood sugar] must be tackled promptly and effectively. Additionally, the ability to learn is compromised when blood glucose is not within a reasonable range. Therefore, the workshop discussed the importance of individualised and student-specific school health team diabetes management and treatment plans. This includes knowing the target blood sugar range of the pupil, knowing the child’s specific hypoglycaemia range, insulin or other medication used, meal and snack plans, how to manage physical activities, signs and symptoms to identify hypoglycaemia and other conditions.”

Managing allergies and respiratory disorders

Dr David Cremonesini, consultant paediatrician and an expert in allergy and respiratory disorders, discussed effective asthma management in schools. The workshop also explored allergies at length, as well as the critical need to ensure that school follows a strict no-nut policy and the administration and availability of Epinephrine injections, commonly referred to as EpiPens.

“Every child needs to have opportunities in life and school is an important space where children spend several hours per day,” says Dr Manal. “It’s only fair that the school environment should be safe — one that helps children be comfortable and thrive.”