By Jhon Aldrin Casinas
The Department of Education (DepEd) led the discussion of the comprehensive direction of school health and nutrition in the context of the department’s overall education agenda in a congress that gathered health and education experts in the country.
Through its Bureau of Learner Support Services (BLSS), the DepEd held the 2018 School Health Congress at the Fontana Hotel and Leisure Parks in Angeles City, Pampanga, attended by 773 DepEd officials and personnel composed of regional directors, education support services division (ESSD) chiefs, medical officers, dentists, nutritionist-dieticians, and nurses from the country’s 17 regions.
Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua, DepEd undersecretary for administration, stressed during his keynote speech the importance of the distribution of health services in schools.
“DepEd’s health programs are primarily directed towards providing and strengthening health and nutrition education, and the delivery of health services with priority given to vulnerable learners and those needing emergency care in schools,” Pascua said.
With the theme: “Empowering Schools through the Convergence of Health and Nutrition Programs,” the congress showcased practices on school-based convergence of health and nutrition programs.
The 2018 Oplan Kalusugan (OK sa DepEd) Photo Contest was also held simultaneously with the congress where Region IV-MIMAROPA won the first place, followed by Regions X for the second place, and XI for the third place.
“The Oplan Kalusugan or OK sa DepEd encapsulates all the major health-related programs implemented in schools. It promotes and provides all learners and DepEd personnel with the sustainable, holistic school health and nutrition program geared towards healthier behaviors and better learning outcomes,” Pascua said.
Launched on December 2017, the OK sa DepEd Program unifies the health plans, policies, programs, and activities of the department and ensures all students avail basic primary health and dental care.
The program was fully implemented during the start of the school year 2018-2019, in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH), local government units (LGUs), and various stakeholders at the local and national levels.
“OK sa DepEd also ensures wellness of DepEd personnel through the provision of basic medical care for better productivity. It promotes a wellness program to help teachers attain a healthy work and life balance, given the challenges of their profession,” Pascua said.