Healthy School = Healthy Community
(School Health Programme Cambodia)
By Aidan McAuliffe
In spite of lengthy school closures in Cambodia throughout 2021, our bespoke school health programme in the country still strives to instil healthier habits and a greener outlook for Cambodian children, while simultaneously fostering a stronger sense of community in villages around the country.
The School Health Programme Cambodia (SHPC) aims to improve fundamental health practices for primary school children, such as handwashing and basic dental hygiene. A second element of the programme focuses on improving schools’ grounds and surroundings by nurturing environments that are clean, green, and safe – features that are conducive to high attendance and participation rates.
The programme stems from Cambodia’s consistent low ranking on the Human Development Index, which takes health, education, and income into account. In the most recent rankings, Cambodia occupied 144th place on the table out of a total of 189 countries. Rankings like these compelled us to initiate a pilot programme in 2013 during which 1,291 children benefitted from basic health activities. The success of the programme, and the persisting need for it, means that we currently have almost 6,000 children from 27 schools enrolled in the programme.
The success of the programme, and the persisting need for it, means that we currently have almost 6,000 children from 27 schools enrolled in the programme.
Our SHPC Programme Manager, Sophean Un, believes that the success of the programme reaches beyond the classroom; the community plays an integral role in its sustainability. Mr. Un says that by involving locals in regular meetings and activities, such as planting flowers and improving waste disposal facilities, they can see the benefit of adopting healthier and more environmentally friendly practices not only for the children, but also for the entire community. He says they will be encouraged to continue taking steps towards a clean, green, and healthy Cambodia under the mantra, “Healthy school equals healthy community”.