Day 1 – Intercountry meeting on school health in the prevention of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)

WHO

The WHO intercountry meeting on school health in the prevention of NCDs started on 23 August 2016 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Welcome speeches were given by  Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative and Head of Country Office, Kyrgyzstan; and the Minister of Health of Kyrgyzstan, Professor Talantbek Batyraliev. The First Lady of Kyrgyzstan, Professor Raisa Atambayeva, welcomed over 60 delegates from eastern Europe, Caucasus and central Asia; WHO representatives; international experts; and partners, and described the country’s recent developments in school health care provision.

Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC)

Dr Martin Weber, Programme Manager, Child and Adolescent Health and Development at WHO/Europe, emphasized the roles that the life--course approach, strong partnerships and intersectoral collaboration play in the field of adolescent health.. He presented the HBSC study, which provides information about the health, well-being, social environment and health behaviour of 11-, 13- and 15-year-old boys and girls. The HBSC study highlights socioeconomic differences and variations between 44 countries and regions, and identifies opportunities for policy interventions. The new HBSC report has a special focus on the effects of gender and socioeconomic differences on the way that young people grow and develop. Dr Weber called for sharing of experiences during the meeting to promote the health of future generations.

Schools for Health in Europe (SHE)

Mr Goof Bujis, Coordinator of the SHE network, presented the SHE project, giving practical examples of whole-school approaches.  He outlined the association between school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance among school-aged youth, and emphasized the prevention of NCDs in health promoting schools.

Focus on adolescent health

Dr Valentina Baltag, scientist, adolescent health, at WHO HQ, introduced the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s’’ and Adolescents’ Health 2016––2030 and the Global Framework for Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents (AA-HA! Framework). She focused on the health of adolescents and said, “In 2014, there are 1.2 billion adolescents aged 10––19 in the world accounting for 16.4% of the global population Adolescents report poorer satisfaction with the health care services compared with adults, and face greater cost and other barriers to accessing health care. Adolescents have the capacity for decision-making yet often face policies that unnecessarily restrict the exercise of their rights. IN 2012, according to Professor Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet, “adolescents [are]…the most pervasively neglected group in global health”.”

School health services

Dr Baltag gave an overview of global school health services, research evidence and best practices in school health, including different organizational models of school health services, and global standards to improve the quality of health care services for adolescents. She said, “Health education and counselling are common but problem solving approaches and motivational interviewing are rarely mentioned.”

Preventing NCDs

Dr Jill Farrington, Senior Technical Officer, Integrated Prevention and Control of NCDs at WHO/Europe, A.i. Head of project on NCDs, Moscow, introduced the WHO European strategies and action plan for NCD risk factors, 9 global NCD targets to be attained by 2025 (against a 2010 baseline). She gave examples of actions from the European child and adolescent health strategy that are within the proposed European NCD Action Plan 2016––2025, and emphasized the role of family in preventing NCDs.

By the end of the day, participants from all countries shared their experiences in school health and health promotion, and identified and discussed the major challenges in the prevention of NCDs in school settings.