By Merlina Hernando Malipot
Recognizing the importance of instilling the value of overall health and wellness among learners, teachers and other personnel, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday formally kicked off this year’s Oplan Kalusugan (OK) sa DepEd Program for School Year 2019-2020 at Banisil Elementary School in General Santos City.
The DepEd–Region 12 (SOCCSKSARGEN) hosted the national kickoff of the OK sa DepEd Program – the flagship health program of the department – for this school year.
Launched in 2018, OK sa DepEd is a “convergence of DepEd’s health programs, plans, policies, and activities for effective and efficient implementation at the school level, in partnership with various stakeholders.”
Spearheaded by the Office of the Undersecretary for Administration, through the Bureau of Learner Support Services-School Health Division (BLSS-SHD), this year’s OK sa DepEd opened with a caravan and feature exhibits on the six flagship health programs, as well as exhibits from partners of DepEd Region XII.
The program also included the recognition of partners. “Since its inaugural launch last year, OK sa DepEd has continued to embody the School Health interventions of the Department, and it is encouraging to see more and more partners join us,” said Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua.
Focus on Mental Health
DepEd said that the program initially focused on its five major school health initiatives such as the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP), National Drug Education Program (NDEP), Adolescent Reproductive Health (ARH) Education, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Schools (WinS), and Medical, Dental, and Nursing Services.
However, this year, the School Mental Health Program was added as the sixth flagship program focusing on the fulfillment of the DepEd’s mandate under Republic Act No. 11036 or the Mental Health Act.
“I enjoin our field offices and schools to help us in promoting the realization of mental health and well-being in all levels of governance,” said DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones – stressing that qualified mental health professionals in all schools shall complement the Department’s initiatives.
“I have mentioned time and again that education and health go in hand-in-hand as the most significant indicators of a country’s development,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Department also enjoins its regional and division offices and schools to observe the One Health Week as part of the OK sa DepEd from July 22 to 26. Activities shall include orientation with parents, communities, partners, and stakeholders; delivery of age-appropriate health services and practices; conduct of feeding and school gardening activities; exhibits/fora on the six health programs; and open house of canteens featuring healthy food and beverage choices.
“OK sa DepEd brings us one step closer to achieving our goal of producing the holistically developed Filipinos that we envision our learners to be,” Briones ended.