Complete Health Management
When we look at the way forward in the educational system we often think of changing syllabi, teaching methods, ways of evaluation, and a dozen other factors that go towards building better minds. After all, that’s what a school is all about. Isn’t it?
Every teacher knows that there’s more to school than simply cramming facts and figures into impressionable young minds and hoping for the best. A school has a responsibility that goes far beyond simple education. It’s about providing children with the tools they need to succeed in the world. It’s about nurturing gifts, overcoming challenges, and discovering dreams. It’s about building better human beings.
And what better place for schools to start than with health. India is a country of many challenges – one of the foremost amongst them is the alarming rise of chronic and lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, and respiratory diseases. The last, in particular, affects the children of India in many ways. While the medical knowledge to manage and help prevent or reduce the impact of such ailments is available, there is no widespread framework that allows for the dissemination of this knowledge.
Building such infrastructure into our schools is a valuable step in the fields of Health and Education – the most important factors for changing society as a whole. Yet, implementing widespread health and health awareness programmes in schools requires a significant investment in time and resources. That’s why utilising a programme designed and implemented by a third-party may be the ideal solution. This is also a solution currently being implemented in a number of schools in India with the aid of a company called Simova Sciences.
Simova Sciences is a company specialising in health facilitation through technology. Founded by the same leadership that created SRL diagnostics and changed the way the entire country manages medical tests of all kinds, Simova has created a Student Health Management Programme that supports and maintains Complete Health Management.
Complete Health in itself is a new phrase for many. According to the World Health Organisation – ‘health is a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’ To maintain health on such a level sounds like a far more daunting prospect than simply consulting your family doctor once every six months. In fact, for complete health, access to an enormous variety of information, contacts with specialists in many medical fields, and a way to keep track of every last piece of related medical information is needed. No matter how you look at it – that’s a lot of paperwork and information.
That’s where technology comes in. It is only recently that countries rated foremost in medical care started to move towards mandating Electronic Health Records. By cataloguing all of a person’s medical information in a single database that can be accessed online, any doctor can be granted access to a comprehensive medical history, improving diagnostic capability and treatment options greatly while also minimising complications.
Simova has gone one step further in their programmes, providing tools and information to help manage health in an ongoing manner, while maintaining strict global standards and Medical Best Practices.
To take the specific example of one school in North India, Simova has introduced a year round programme – using all their tools to provide a comprehensive level of healthcare to every child in that school; a far better approach than its previous health measures which included a nurse on station, and the contact for a single pediatrician in case of emergencies.
As an initial step, Simova’s School Audit was able to do an evaluation of the school and its surroundings for health-related risks. They immediately identified two street-food vendors near the school which did not meet hygienic standards for food preparation and could be directly linked to mild food poisoning in a number of students. Similarly, a park nearby was classified as unsafe due to a large pile-up of garbage and broken playground equipment. The school was notified of these and other factors, and the students were then advised as necessary.
During the scheduled health assessment of the entire student body, Simova’s team of trained professionals were able to actively evaluate the health and well-being of each and every student. In doing so, there were quite a few alarming results. Nearly a hundred students exhibited untreated tooth decay and dental caries, seventy students exhibited enlarged tonsils, which could have been symptomatic of other ailments, and a large number also had hearing or sight problems that were inadequately treated. Other more serious problems were also identified. Over fifty complained of frequent headaches and dizziness, and a similar number exhibited symptoms related to respiratory problems like asthma. Three students even exhibited cardiovascular murmurs.
To take a few specific examples, three different children can be considered. One boy, Sahil (names changed to preserve confidentiality), had been performing very poorly in school, with frequent complaints regarding inattention, rudeness, and poor grades. During the assessment, it was discovered that Sahil had a large waxbuildup in his ears that had gone undetected. After it was removed, his performance improved almost immediately.
Another girl, Sara, had certain symptoms that led the Simova team to recommend further investigation. When her parents followed up on that recommendation, they found that Sara actually had juvenile diabetes, which if left untreated could have led to far more serious health issues. In the case of a third child, Ankit, an issue regarding spine mobility was detected and similarly recommended for investigation.
In Ankit’s case, this revealed that he had pulmonary tuberculosis. This detection was vital, not only in helping Ankit secure early treatment, but also to allow precautions to be taken to prevent further infection among the student body. Subsequent health assessments allowed the tools from Simova’s Online Health Portal to chart each child’s overall growth and development over time. Any interruptions or problems could be then identified and correlated with exhibited symptoms. Whether it was incorrect nutrition or an insufficient amount of exercise or any other factor, measures could be taken.
The Online Portal also allowed both Simova and the school to share important educational health-related material with both the children in the programme and their parents. Access to educational and informative videos and other interactive media was provided, allowing for wider community outreach and involvement.
Primarily, the content was geared to keep parents abreast of health and technology developments, while seeking to stimulate the children’s minds and teaching them to take charge of their own well-being. In India, preventive pediatric care is largely neglected unless there is a problem whose symptoms have already manifested. Thus, the potential good from such a system is hard to underestimate. Diagnosis of serious ailments like juvenile diabetes and asthma as early as possible can help manage and sometimes even reverse symptoms. Identification of learning disabilities like dyslexia allows for adjustment at an early stage, vastly improving academic potential.
By instituting proper health management programmes on a large scale, it is possible to transform each school into that ideal of both educating our children, as well as providing the full range of support every child needs to realise his full potential. More importantly, by engaging entire families, community awareness can be spread regarding health and health management, improving the lives of many.
Creating a secure Electronic Health Record for every child in India may seem like an unrealistic goal, but it has to start somewhere. School Health Programmes which make the best use of available technology – sharing relevant information electronically across phones and emails, can create lifetime benefits for every child enrolled. Our country has many challenges, but also has one of the greatest resources in the known world – that of an entire generation of young Indians just waiting for the chance to live up to their potential. If programmes like Simova’s can help even a fraction of that generation fulfill that potential, it is surely worth it. (www.simovasciences.com)