“Brighter Futures” through Health Promotion and Health Equity

There is robust evidence that health promotion in the school setting can increase children’s knowledge and change their choice of health related behaviors for the better. The WHO Health Promoting School (HPS) model is a valid template for addressing a variety of health issues identified as relevant to a community, and offers an integrated educational approach proven to be applicable and effective even in low income settings.1 The challenge remains to engage the multiple agencies involved in health and education to define and implement a unified and cohesive approach.2

Current work with sub-­Saharan HPS programs is addressing prevention and management of malaria. Results indicate that child morbidity and school absenteeism caused by disease can be substantially reduced with modest investment – this should translate into better academic outcomes for the children involved as well as better health. Importantly, engagement of teachers in such programs has been readily achieved where investment is made in initial dialogue and engagement. The health topic addressed must also have relevance and resonance for the community, and in settings with the most effective long-term interventions a ‘champion’ emerges from within the school who sustains the program.

The ‘challenge’ to translate advances in diagnostic technology into viable and cost‐efficient options for low resource settings is being addressed in the context of screening for early detection of bladder disease. During previous STIAS collaboration development of a novel optical technique using near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) was advanced significantly,3 and now, new inexpensive prototype devices are currently in use in field trials in rural clinics in Uganda.4

Work will be done to advance awareness and applications of WHO Health Promoting Schools to promote child health and NIRS as a low cost diagnostic option for health screening in sub‐Saharan Africa. And the potential will be explored for both initiatives to contribute to the STIAS long term research theme“Health in Transition” through the ‘Health Promotion’ and ‘Health Equity’ sub-themes.

  1. Macnab AJ. The Stellenbosch consensus statement on Health Promoting Schools. Global Health Promotion 20(1), 78- 81. doi:10.1177/1757975912464252 http://pedsagepub.com (2013)
  2. Macnab AJ, Stewart D, Gagnon F. Health Promoting Schools: Initiatives in Africa, Health Education 114 (4), 246-259 (2014)
  3. Macnab AJ. The evolution of near infrared spectroscopy in urology. Biomedical Spectroscopy and Imaging 3, 311-344 (2014)
  4. Shadgan B, Stothers L, Molavi B, Mutabazi S, Mukisa R, Macnab AJ Near infrared spectroscopy evaluation of bladder function: the impact of skin pigmentation on detection of physiologic change during voiding. Proc. SPIE 9303, Photonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics XI, 93030U, doi:10.1117/12.2077824 (2015)
Project leader(s):
  • Andrew MacNab (Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Canada)

Leave a Reply