Improved Learning through better Health, Nutrition and Education for the School-Age Child.
Globally, the number of children reaching school age is estimated to be 1.2 billion children, 18% of the world’s population, with 88% of these children living in less developed countries where there is the most illness.
In general, improving health and
nutrition brings the greatest education benefits to the poor and most vulnerable. For example, the greatest benefits of deworming are seen in children who have heavy worm loads and poor nutritional status.
In many countries, girls are enrolled at and attend school less than boys.
Malaria prevention can help reduce the enrolment gap between girls and boys, as can improving
access to safe water and hygienic sanitation facilities see
Stunting (low height for age) and underweight (low weight for age) are dangerously common in school-age children in low income countries and are frequently linked to poor mental and educational development as children reach school age. Poor school performance can also result from common deficiencies of
micronutrients such as iron,
Globally, millions of children are also infected with parasitic helminths (or parasitic
worms), with the greatest burden of disease in the poorest countries. Helminth infections are the single largest contributor to the disease burden of children aged 5 to 14 years both in terms of prevalence and intensity of infection, and are estimated to account for over 12% of the total disease burden in girls and over 11% of the burden in boys. Chronic worm infection can contribute to malnutrition through loss of appetite, malabsorption of nutrients and anaemia through loss of blood (especially in the case of whipworm and schistosoma infections). Children with chronic worm infections may be stunted and underweight, which in turn can lead to long term retardation of mental and physical development (Jukes et al. 2008).
Other Key Resources:
As part of the WHO Information Series on
School Health see various documents: