By Jedida Barasa

World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have launched the Global Standards for Health promoting schools, a package that is set to benefit an estimated 1.9 billion students globally.

According to WHO and UNESCO almost 365 million primary school students lack meals as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a significant increase in stress, anxiety and other mental health issues that affect these children.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, said that the newly launched global standards are designed to create schools that nurture education and health that equip students with knowledge and skills for their future health and well-being, employability and life prospects.

“Education and health are interdependent basic human rights for all at the core of any human right, and essential to social and economic development. A school that is not health-promoting is no longer justifiable and acceptable. I call for all of us to affirm our commitment and role to make every school a health-promoting school,” said Audrey Azouley, UNESCO Director General.

The package will be piloted in Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Paraguay, with an aim to ensure all schools promote life skills, cognitive and socioemotional skills and healthy lifestyles for all learners. UNESCO and WHO will work with governments to enable them develop the package according to their specific contexts.