Bringing healthcare to students — where they are.
We make schools an access point for children’s health by training select teachers as community health workers and linking schools with the healthcare system.
A ten-step process built for scale and lasting impact
The Healthy Learners model harnesses technology and leverages the government's existing infrastructure, systems and personnel of schools and health facilities, which reduces operating costs, promotes local ownership of the programs, facilitates scale and helps ensure the permanence of school health.
WORK WITHIN EXISTING STRUCTURES
While healthcare services are free of charge in Zambia, few school-age children from low-income families access these services. There is an overwhelming lack of programs, resources and support to care for the health of children over five.
Rather than duplicate existing systems and structures, we’ve found the most effective way to provide healthcare for school-aged children is to work where most already are — in their schools — and train the people these kids already spend most of their time with: their teachers.
TRAIN TEACHERS AS COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS
We train and equip teachers to monitor student health, assess children who are unwell, administer basic medical care, and refer sick children. These School Health Workers (SHW) link schools to the local health facilities, making schools a principle access point into the healthcare system. When schools and clinics work together, SHWs treat mild conditions and health workers the most serious ones, resulting in better health outcomes, improved attendance, and a reduction in complications.
ESTABLISH HEALTH ROOMS
We work with school administrators and the local government to establish health rooms at partner schools. We provide seed funding, design assistance, and oversight, while the schools themselves arrange for the construction and ongoing maintenance. The health rooms serve as locations where children know they can go to receive care from a School Health Worker when they are not feeling well.
PROVIDE PROACTIVE CARE
By working within the school and with the teachers, our model is able to proactively monitor the health needs of students. We use three mechanisms to ensure schools quickly identify and respond to sick children:
1. Schools establish a buddy system. All students are placed into ‘buddy groups,’ in which they are responsible for looking after their fellow classmates and reporting to their teacher when a 'buddy' is unwell.
2. Teachers monitor the health of their learners. All classroom teachers look out for children who appear unwell and send these children to the health room.
3. Schools review daily attendance records and follow up on absent students.
SCREEN AND TREAT
Once students are identified as unwell, they are assessed by a trained School Health Worker. The trained teachers use a mobile clinical assessment and diagnostic application to assess children and determine the appropriate course of action. School Health Workers maintain a first-aid kit to address minor ailments directly within the school.
ESTABLISH REFERRAL SYSTEMS
When care cannot be administered by a School Health Worker, they have the tools available to refer the student to a health facility. Because the teachers assess and triage students before referral, the health facility fast-tracks their care. If a student requiring immediate care cannot be transported to a health facility by a guardian, School Health Workers take them to a clinic to receive the required care.
MAKE CARE CONTINUOUS
School Health Workers follow up with students after their initial assessment to monitor their health — until the children are deemed healthy again — to ensure they receive the care they require and are able to successfully return to school.
School Health Workers collect data through their digital clinical assessments of students, which is generating an enormous database on school children’s health. As a result, we are now able to monitor disease trends throughout our network of schools. This enables us to detect potential outbreaks early and to customize program content to local community needs.
STRENGTHEN HEALTH EDUCATION
We work with school administrators to establish designated times in the school schedule for health education. Our School Health Workers both teach the course and help other faculty members to do so. Data collected by School Health Workers through their digital clinical assessments enable us to tailor health education topics to local disease trends.
PROVIDE PREVENTATIVE CARE
School Health Workers partner with local government health facilities to deliver preventative medical interventions to school-aged children, such as biannual deworming, vitamin A supplementation, organizing students to receive immunizations from medical professionals, and generally raising the community’s consciousness of health issues.
A model for Zambia and beyond
Starting in Zambia, we are building a model for how to improve the health of school children throughout low and middle-income countries.