The biggest barrier to an education is ill health.
HealthStart breaks down that barrier.
Thanks in part to the Millennium Development Goals, 90% of children in the developing world now have access to school, but malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, worms and other health issues stop those children from learning even if they make it to school. By tackling all of these issues, HealthStart means children actually get an education.
Phase 1 - our pilot - saw school pass rates go from 40% - 87% in our two schools. Thanks to the support of Comic Relief, we launched the programme in 25 schools in 2016. By phase 3 in 2020, we want to launch 100 HealthStart schools. That’s 80,000 children.We're building a network of schools, collecting data and working with communities in order to improve the health of children and enable them to get the most from their education.
HealthStart in 2018
Posted on 10th Jan 2018
It's all change this year for Child.org's flagship school health programme!
For two years, Comic Relief have been funding this stage of HealthStart in 25 schools in Kisumu county. The two years will come to an end in April, so we're finishing up our work with the current schools, rolling out our final activities (including the distrubution of our brand new School Health Guide), and collecting the evidence to find out what worked.
Clare, our Programming Officer, is in Kisumu for the coming weeks, working with our partners at Ogra to collect all the necessary data to assess the impact of this stage of HealthStart. She's joined by 2017 Charity Apprentice alumni Laura and Nikki, on a work placement to assist with the wrapping up of this stage of the programme. Meanwhile, Programming Officer Cherio is organising a full evaluation of the programme, which we're arranging to be conducted by external evaluators.
We'll be leaving our 25 schools, but they'll still be HealthStart schools. HealthStart schools are schools that make the health of their pupils and community a priority and are equipped with the knowledge, contacts and resources they need to tackle the problems they identify. We're confident that the work we've done with these schools means that the impact of the programme will continue, without Child.org funding and involvement, for years to come.
Pictured above is headmaster Dan from Thurbie primary school. A priority for Dan during the HealthStart programme has been to install handwashing facilities and toilets. In recent months, an outbreak of cholera has struck the local area. Teaching children about the importance of handwashing has helped to keep more children safe, and they have also been encouraged to pass on this knowledge to people at home.
To raise more funds for school facilities, Dan asked parents to make a small financial contribution which he spent… on two sheep. The sheep are living and breeding happily in the school playing field, and the school now have six sheep! By breeding and selling sheep, Dan hopes to generate reliable, steady income for the school.
So where next for HealthStart? We're researching where to take the programme next, and are interested in trialling the programme in a different area of Kenya, to prove it can work outside Kisumu. We'll be applying for funding for this new phase early this year - so watch this space!
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts
All the evidence points to the fact that when tackling health problems - you need to do them all. Just providing clean water, or malaria nets, or deworming tablets can help, but it can also exacerbate the other problems. You need to do a comprehensive intervention. The FRESH framework from the UN and WHO makes this very clear, but it’s also expensive and complicated. We wanted to prove that it can be done, and that it works.With our partners in Kenya we ran a pilot in two schools, to 2,000 children, over three years. We tackled malaria, malnutrition, worms, diarrhoea and waterborne diseases. By tackling them all together we showed the impact can be huge. We’re building on that evidence now.
Where we work
Currently HealthStart is working in Western Kenya. Over the next three years we will begin to work in Uganda, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
One simple intervention (water/malaria nets/deworming tablets) doesn’t work - or if it does, it doesn’t last. We are determined to change the way health and education intertwine for good.
HealthStart works with schools, local government and the community to put in place a system that will have a sustainable impact on every pupil.
We work with each school to ensure they are embedding health services and teaching health skills. It’s the school that will deliver the services in the long term - so we need to work with them.
We set up health clubs within the schools for both children but also parents and other members of the community. Communities hold the school to account.
We help the schools ensure they get the malaria nets and deworming tablets they’ve been promised by the government. We work with each school to see what other services they need - nutritional supplements, clean water, sanitation and help find ways to deliver those sustainably.
It is essential we know what works and what doesn’t. We teach the schools to capture and share their results so that we can continue to learn and monitor which schools need further support.
How you can help
We’ve funded 25 of the 100 schools we need to run the next phases of HealthStart. We need your help to fund the rest.
A monthly donation is the best way to help us fund HealthStart. We won’t tell you that your monthly donation of £100 saves 100 children. It’s not as simple as that. Read why we need Child.org core.
If you want to help us spread HealthStart and get rid of the barriers stopping children from getting an education, take a look at our Do something page and take your first step.