School health services

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School dentist examining children's teeth. Netherlands, 1935.

School health services are services from medical, teaching and other professionals applied in or out of school to improve the health and well-being of children and in some cases whole families. These services have been developed in different ways around the globe but the fundamentals are constant: the early detection, correction, prevention or amelioration of disease, disability and abuse from which school aged children can suffer.


It was shown by statistics that many pupils were backward in their studies only because of lack of physical vitality. In 1920, it was shown that so many pupils in the schools of Brooklyn, New York, were compelled to pass through the same grades twice that, at the average cost of $40 a term for each pupil, the borough lost $2,000,000. On this basis various social organizations demanded an appropriation from the city of $100,000 for more effective medical aid to the school children, contending that more than half of the extra expense could thus be saved. Out of 252,000 school-children inspected in New York City in 1919, 74% were found defective physically, defective teeth and vision being the chief faults.[1]

Unesco Tools[edit]

Unesco has published a set of tools, to support the FRESH framework, to guide those wishing to set up school health services around the world. Designed primarily for developing nations, these tools can be of universal use [1].The main emphasis of these tool is on:

United States[edit]

School health services are well developed in the United States. Central guidelines are provided by Making Health Academic but each state and within that each school board has adopted its own specific methods.

Making Health Academic [2][edit]

This is a five year project funded by CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) designed to enable all schools to be part of a co-ordinated school health program. The project is built around the fact that six preventable behaviours, mainly learned in childhood and youth, account for most of the serious illnesses and premature deaths in the United States; these are:[3]

Examples of existing services[edit]

  • Massachusetts. An example from a maritime state is [4] where a typical mission statement starts "School Health Services fosters the growth, development and educational achievement of Massachusetts' students by promoting their health and wellbeing ... "
  • New Mexico. An example from a southern state is [5] where an interesting "yucca model of coordinated school health" is used to help visualize the inter-relationship of the services.

Relevant US Wikipedia links[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

The health of children and youth in the UK is mainly the responsibility of the NHS, for example child health screening [6] and advice for parents of overweight children [7]. School based services are therefore more limited than in the US.

Examples of existing services[edit]

Other countries[edit]

School health systems are expanding in low- and middle-income countries. Information on school health in these countries is collated on the Schools and Health website [11] maintained by the Partnership for Child Development. A database of School Health and Nutrition (SHN) Programmes in low and middle income countries can be found on the site:

Examples of existing services[edit]


Medical inspection in schools was first instituted in France in 1886, then, in succession, this example was followed by Belgium, Hungary, Chile, Germany and Great Britain, the latter in 1908. In the United States, medical inspection in schools was first instituted in New York City in 1892, then in Boston in 1894, in Chicago in 1895, and in Philadelphia in 1898.[1]