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  • Health Start

Helping schools to identify and address the health needs of their pupils

What is Health Start?

HealthStart worked with schools and communities to address the holistic health of children in Kenya by providing a comprehensive school health programme which tackled as many problems as possible. found ways for schools to provide clean water, soap, deworming, malaria nets, reproductive health content, food, training in health and life skills – whatever was needed at that particular school. HealthStart worked directly with schools, strengthening their internal systems and offering new ways for the school to tackle issues themselves.

Why HealthStart?

HealthStart was inspired by UNESCO’s FRESH (Focusing Resources on Effective School Health) Framework. developed our school health programme to combine a whole series of interventions, based on the suggestion from FRESH that combining interventions would be more effective in improving children’s health and impacting their academic attendance and performance.

Our HealthStart pilot produced encouraging results which demonstrate that complex school health programmes can lead to positive gains in health, nutrition and academic performance.

Between 2012 and 2015, provided HealthStart to over 2,000 children in Western Kenya. This resulted in a number of successes in nutrition and education. The proportion of children who were underweight almost halved (20% to 11%), and the prevalence of stunting reduced from 29.9% to 20%. There was also an improvement in academic performance, with approximately 30% more children achieving satisfactory school grades.

The Journal of Archives of Disease in Childhood (ADC) published an article about the success of our HealthStart pilot. You can read it here.

“These results are encouraging and demonstrate that complex schools health programmes can lead to positive gains in health, nutrition and importantly academic performance. There is a need for further evaluation of comprehensive school health interventions in poor communities.”

(ADC, 2017)

Other successes

Between 2016 and 2018, HealthStart was delivered in 25 schools in Kisumu County, Kenya. Based on our qualitative and quantitative results we found particularly good feedback around systems strengthening, health education and community engagement. We also found:

  • 22% increase in the percentage of Kenya’s School Health and Nutrition policy being implemented in HealthStart Schools.
  • 43% increase in pupils reporting they are given information at school about how to stay health.
  • 100% of children received the recommended dose of deworming.
  • 94% of older children knowing how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies.

Read our impact report to find out more about HealthStart.


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