By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
By next year, the Department of Education (DepEd) will establish over 2,000 clinics in public schools nationwide in line with its efforts to ensure that all learners are provided with the basic primary health.
Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua, in a recent press briefing, announced that a total of 2,101 clinics will be established in central elementary schools in the country. “They will become the ‘hubs’ or centers of the town where other schools would also be served,” he said.
These hubs, Pascua said, would also become the physical centers of Oplan Kalusugan (OK) sa DepEd which was launched earlier. The “OK sa DepEd” is now the flagship health program of the department. It is a converging effort where health plans, policies, programs, and activities are implemented to “ensure that all school children are provided with basic primary health and dental care to allow them to attain their full educational potential.”
Pascua said that it will be the “first time that we will renovate the classrooms into clinics.” These “hubs,” he explained, will have “dental chairs, equipment, medical and examination tables, and all the things that we need for clinics will be established there.” The funds, he noted, have been allocated by Department of Budget and Management (DBM.) “We will start to implement this starting next year – as soon as it is approved by the Congress,” he added.
These “hubs,” Pascua explained, will be separate from the School-Based Barangay Health Centers or Barangay Health Stations which are the initiatives of Department of Health (DOH). “We are in the process of reviewing this program and we will be consulting the DOH on how to implement it with this new development now,” he added.
Currently, Pascua admitted that not all public schools have their own clinics.
“There are some schools that have clinics but not all,” Pascua said. This is why DepEd will be establishing the said clinics by next year. “This is the first time that we will institute a comprehensive renovation of classrooms into clinics,” he explained.
Asked why not all schools have clinics, Pascua explained “that when the rationalization plan was implanted in DepEd, there were definition of priorities, core competence, etc one of the results is that the health care was lodged in the DOH and DILG and it was not focused on schools.”
“But because there were many issues and concerns that came out, it was found out that there was really a need to establish clinics because the students go to school,” Pascua said. He noted that the schools become a catchment area “that is why we need to establish clinics here.”
“Now, we have different programs converging into one through the OK sa DepEd and it is better that we have physical hubs serving as physical centers for this program,” Pascua said. He noted that the implementation of different DepEd health programs will not be separate since it will become comprehensive implementation through the OK sa DepEd program.
The “OK sa DepEd Program” converges the five major DepEd school health programs namely School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP); National Drug Education Program (NDEP); Adolescent Reproductive Health Education (ARH); Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools (WinS) Program; and medical, nursing, and dental services.
It also aims to ensure that all DepEd school health personnel and school children practice healthier behavior that they can do on their own, and get linked up with health providers and local government units (LGUs) for child and adolescent health services. “This, in essence, is our answer in fulfilling our commitment in the social development goal (SDGs),” Pascua ended.