01 June 2009
InWent D+C Article
In the Philippines, the central government controls the school system, while provincial authorities are in charge of health-care matters. Accordingly, a national preventive health programme in primary schools depends on funds from the provinces’ budgets.
Fit For School (FFS) is a programme that ensures that children in government-run elementary schools wash their hands with soap every day, brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste and are de-wormed every six months. To implement the programme, the education and health sectors of the Philippines are pooling efforts.
Fit For School is also the name of the Philippine NGO that supervises the programme. Its work is supported financially and with human resources by InWent, GTZ, CIM and the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. Because it is simple, effective and in line with global and national health policies, FFS is successful. Its acceptance was boosted considerably by a campaign run by various UN organisations and multinational soap manufacturers to mark Global Handwashing Day (see also Monse et al, E + Z/D+C, November 2008, S. 434f.).
The programme fits neatly into the structures of the centralised education sector and is thus easy to implement. The schools cooperate. What is more difficult is the funding and procurement of the materials by the local governments. Local education authorities (Schools Divisions) report to central government. They are responsible for implementation. The health sector, on the other hand, is decentralised, so soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and de-worming tablets are financed and procured by provincial authorities.
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