New health project to promote healthy lifestyles at schools

Schools for Health’ launches its operations in health promotion and disease prevention among schoolchildren

A new project will promote healthy lifestyles in order to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases among schoolchildren and communities around them. In cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth, the project by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC will work with schools, education and health directorates and
municipalities during the next four years.

“I am pleased to be here today at the genesis of the project ‘Schools for Health’ which I would consider as a genuine programme of health education in schools. I am convinced that this project will provide us with a good information base on children’s development, physical but also mental development”, said Minister of Health and Social Protection Ogerta Manastirliu.

“This project comes at a very important moment when all of us are made aware more than ever and have understood more than ever that health comes first. We should all engage to enrich our curriculum with the promotion of healthy behaviours but also train our human resources”, said Minister of Education and Sports Evis Kushi.

“The collaboration between Switzerland and Albania in the health sector marks today a new path: we launch our joint effort to promote healthy behaviours in particular amongst school children. This continues our joint work in supporting the primary health care service including the response to Covid19”, said Swiss Ambassador Adrian Maître.

Schoolchildren of ages 6-15, their families and communities at large are the main target of the project, and will be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to reduce exposure to risk factors of non-communicable diseases like tobacco, unhealthy nutrition, lack of physical activities and alcohol consumption. ‘Schools for Health’ will address new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic as
well as mental health, sexual and reproductive health, environment and hygiene. Teachers and school authorities will be key actors in enabling healthy behaviours and practices for schoolchildren. Around 120 schools will be covered with direct onsite activities – approximately 11% of Albania’s schools – but all 9-year schools in Albania will benefit from a range of online interventions and the support to define the new national health promotion strategy.

The project will assist national institutions and municipalities to set and implement policies that advance health among children and communities. ‘Schools for Health’ (S4H) is a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC, and will be implemented by Save the Children, an international organisation with a vast experience in working with children in Albania for over 20 years. Non – communicable disease in Albania account for 93% of all deaths. Unhealthy behaviours and lack of knowledge of good health practices is a major cause for these diseases. Schools have an essential role to play in assisting children to adopt healthier behaviours and practices and prevent diseases.