School Health Program (SHOP)


Izumi Foundation



Children’s health issues are the single most common cause of absenteeism in Swazi schools and ultimately contribute to the high rates of school drop out in the country. Poor health among children disproportionately affects orphans and vulnerable children whose high unmet need for healthcare services severely compromises their academic performance and ability to stay in school.

In response, World Education's Bantwana Initiative, in tandem with Swaziland’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW), school leadership and parents, guardians and local leaders in targeted communities, developed the School Health Outreach Program (SHOP) which reaches more than 7,000 vulnerable children and youth annually and another 19,000 with health education in 37 schools in Lubombo Region (95% of secondary schools in the region), the majority of whom are adolescents.

Funded by the Izumi Foundation, SHOP deploys mobile health teams to schools to avail health services to children in their own school communities free of cost. SHOP activities are coordinated with Bantwana’s ongoing Bantwana Schools Integrated Program (BSIP).
SHOP’s three major components include:

  • Health screening, treatment and referrals which contribute to early detection of childhood illnesses, on-the-spot treatment and referral for children in need of additional care. Particular focus is placed on referrals for HIV testing and counseling and for adolescent reproductive health counseling.
  • Health education sessions led by school health nurses and youth peers who facilitate lively and engaging debates on issues important to youth (i.e. early marriage, roles of men and women, decision-making, sexuality, etc.) which ensure that information is relevant, motivate young people to take charge of their health, and help adolescents think critically about their behavior as it relates to their health, and use critical information, like adolescent reproductive health, to protect themselves against HIV, STIs, and unwanted pregnancies.
  • First aid training and provision of first aid supplies, as well as training in universal HIV precautions, help teachers in schools nationwide directly attend to more minor health issues immediately.

In addition to increasing access to health care services for adolescents, evidence suggests that SHOP has contributed to improved uptake and performance in school as a result of decreased absenteeism and school drop-out, as well as an increased ability on the part of students to improve focus and make better decisions both in and out of the classroom.

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