School Health Nutrition Practitioner Spotlight

Ghana
Girls Iron-Folate Tablet Supplementation (GIFTS)

The GIFTS Program is designed to improve the nutritional status of menstruating girls/women aged 10-19 years in Ghana. The program, which is supported through a collaboration with the Ghana office of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Ghana Ministries of Health and Education, Emory University Global Health Institute and The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides free weekly IFA supplementation delivered to in-school and out-of-school adolescent girls as well as health and nutrition education sessions for both boys and girls.

An evaluation of the GIFTS program assessed its impact in school-attending girls from the 2017-2018 academic year in four regions: Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East, and Volta. The impact evaluation found that the prevalence of anemia among girls in the program dropped from 25% to 19.5%. Learn more about the GIFTS program and its impact by watching this webinar hosted by the Global Nutrition Coordination Plan.

Kenya
Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs

In 2017 and 2018, the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs established a national program to procure and deliver sanitary towels to 3.7 million girls in primary, special primary and secondary schools. The motivation for this large-scale effort came from the Republic of Kenya’s Constitution which enshrines a commitment to gender equality as well as the country’s Basic Education Act and Goal 4 of the SDGsResearch conducted by the World Bank estimated that adolescent girls in low and middle-income settings may be absent up to four school days out of every 28 days due to inadequate menstrual hygiene management (Mooijman et al., 2005). Not all research has found a clear link between provision of sanitary towels and school days missed. However, when attendance data are missing from school registries, simply excluding the missing data incorrectly minimizes any program effects. A recent randomized controlled trial that corrected for these problems in data collection from Kenya estimated a reduced effect while nonetheless confirming that provision of sanitary towels reduces absenteeism among adolescent girls by more than 5%. Despite some dispute on the magnitude of the effect, this program is clearly critical to to improving school attendance.

Zambia
Healthy Learners

Healthy Learners supports the Zambian Ministries of Health and General Education to deliver health services to Lusaka primary schools. Their model trains and equips teachers as school health workers who monitor student health, assess children who are unwell, administer basic medical care, and refer sick children, thereby making schools a principal access point into the healthcare system.

In response to COVID-19, they adapted programmatic operations by partnering with the school health workers to disseminate accurate health information, supporting the Zambia Ministry of Health to leverage schools as hubs for disease surveillance, and collaborating with both the health and education ministries to develop and implement Zambia’s COVID-19 guidelines for safe school reopening.

Learn more about Healthy Learners by watching a recording of their participation in the September 2020 Child Health Task Force webinar (passcode: .3G9JvAn).

Senegal
USAID/Senegal Country Mission

USAID/Senegal supports a $2 million, three-year project to increase access to water in school settings of the Matam Region of Senegal to improve children’s ability to learn. This investment is intended to improve students’ learning conditions through better access to water at hand-washing stations, including adding or rehabilitating micro-boreholes with solar pumps and by bringing water to schools in arid areas with the help of donkey-drawn water carts. These investments will be coupled with school hygiene education.