Education is a critical factor in every child’s physical and intellectual development, but for children across the world especially in developing countries, poor health is a significant issue that prevents them from accessing primary education and benefiting from it.
Poor health resulting from inadequate nutrition, lack of access to clean drinking water or lack of appropriate sanitation and hygiene practices, affects school attendance and a child’s ability to learn; 66 million primary school-age children attend school hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone while over 443 million school days are missed every year by children who consume contaminated water.
As part of its efforts to tackle this growing concern, Dubai Cares has developed and implemented several School Health & Nutrition as well as Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) in Schools programs to increase primary education enrollment and retention.
Commenting on this occasion, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Cares said, “Chronic malnutrition and hunger, and inadequate sanitation facilities in developing countries leave school going children very vulnerable when they are doing their best to secure good education. With targeted programs, Dubai Cares along with its partners is doing its best to increase school enrolment rates, decreasing pupil absenteeism, and promote children’s overall health through different interventions which focus on in-school feeding, sanitation and hygiene education, targeted medical care and deworming.”
Dubai Cares has developed and implemented several programs, to enhance the overall health of children in schools, focusing on deworming, providing in-school meals and improving access to clean water, and sanitation facilities that are also gender-specific.
In the Occupied Palestinian territories, for instance, Dubai Cares supports school health and nutrition programs. The AED 4 million (US$1.1 million) programs, which run in partnership with Global Networks and the World Food Program (WFP), provide deworming pills and iron supplementation to 235,329 children in UNRWA schools in Gaza and West Bank and provide locally procured fortified biscuits to 92,000 children in Gaza.
In Ghana, the AED 9.9 million (US$ 2.7 million) Dubai Cares funded integrated school health and nutrition program is impacting 320,800 primary school children and 82,078 rural households. In Angola, Dubai Cares has partnered with The END Fund to implement a school-based deworming program that treats children under the age of 14 for various Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) with a commitment of AED 3.67 million (US$ 1 million). In Mali and Sierra Leone, Dubai Cares has launched a WASH in School program and has allocated over AED 66 million (US$ 18 million) to provide better access and improve the quality of education directly benefiting over 1.7 million children. With a commitment of AED 9.2 million (US$ 2.5 million), Dubai Cares in partnership with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has launched a pilot school feeding program supported by the Government of Bangladesh to improve the education and nutrition of children 5 to 11 years old from vulnerable families in approximately 45 schools.