Strengthening inclusive school health and nutrition: 3 recommendations from Asia
Participants from Nepal, Bhutan and Lao PDR share the main take-aways and useful resources of the 7th Annual School Health and Nutrition training course which took place last month in Bangkok.
April 10, 2018 by Francis Peel, Imperial College London's Partnership for Child Development
11 minutes read
Thai students smile at the camera during a school visit. Credit: Francis Peel
Thai students smile at the camera during a school visit.
Francis Peel

Last month, 37 school health and nutrition specialists from governments and NGOs in 13 in Asia-Pacific took part in the 7th Annual School Health and Nutrition (SHN) training course in Bangkok.

The internationally renowned course is designed to develop the capacity of SHN stakeholders from all stages in their career to develop and implement effective and sustainable SHN policies and programs that can benefit all children.

With a focus on shared learning, policy analysis and the latest tools and practices, the course covers health and nutrition management in schools and the importance of SHN policy, skills-based health education, school-based health services and a safe school environment. This year's course focused on equity, inclusion and mainstreaming, including presenting recently published findings and case studies.

The course offers a limited number of places to ensure that participants benefit from a personalized and tailored learning environment. To help share some of the learnings from the course, we asked participants to name the tools and resources that they would recommend to their colleagues.

Get to know your country's policy environment

Sajani Prava Bajracharya - School Meal Program, World Food Programme Nepal

Sajani Prava Bajracharya with Thai pupils during a school visit.

Sajani Prava Bajracharya with Thai pupils during a school visit.

Credit: Francis Peel

"I attended the course to improve my understanding of how school health policies form, how they link together and how different countries use different policies to implement and sustain SHN programs. I wanted to get a holistic picture of SHN so that I could better link the school meal program with other activities and initiatives. In Nepal there are a lot of NGOs working in different regions and on different programs, which can mean duplication of activities. This course introduced me to the policy analysis tool SABER (Systems Approach for Better Education Results) Framework.

For me the SABER was incredibly helpful exercise in analysing SHN in my country, it's almost like going to the doctor to diagnose what the issues are with SHN. During the SABER exercise we realized that Nepal already has a number of policies in place that haven't been fully implemented due to a lack of funding, community engagement or cross sectoral collaboration. When I go home I'm keen to implement a cross-sectoral program that works with communities to tackle junk food intake in schools."

Resources you can use:

  • Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) Framework
    SABER is framework developed by the World Bank to collect, compare and evaluate education policies from around the world. At the country level, it provides education systems analyses, assessments, diagnosis, and opportunities for dialogue. At the global level, it improves the education systems knowledge base and uses this information to implement effective reforms.
Access SABER

Access SABER via -

Integrate both your programs and your stakeholders

Sangay Thinley - Comprehensive School Health Program, Ministry of Health, Bhutan

Kungzang Deki- School Health and Nutrition Division, Ministry of Education, Bhutan

Bhutan's Sangay Thinley (R) on a school visit with colleagues from Nepal, Pakistan and Cambodia. Credit: Francis Peel

Bhutan's Sangay Thinley (R) on a school visit with colleagues from Nepal, Pakistan and Cambodia. Credit: Francis Peel

"The focus on integration during this course was very relevant for SHN in Bhutan, both in terms of integrating the work of different sectors and also integrating different interventions.

In SHN it's not just health alone, there are many actors; it is at its most effective when there is cross sectoral collaboration. For example in school feeding it involves stakeholders from agriculture, health and education. Unfortunately, from my experience there is still a lot of people working in silos. Bhutan has experience in integrating different interventions such as linking deworming with vitamin A supplementation, school-based health screening and vaccination programs. We learnt that to strengthen and sustain these comprehensive SHN programs we need to embed integration into the country's education sector plans.

We have included integration as a key framework in the SHN action plan that we will be taking back home with us. We'll be briefing our immediate bosses and developing terms of reference for an integration committee made up of stakeholders to identify how best to mainstream an integration strategy."

Resources you can use:

  • School Health Integrated Programming (SHIP)
    SHIP is a joint initiative of the World Bank, Sightsavers and Imperial College London's Partnership for Child Development with funding from the Global Partnership for Education. It aims to support governments to develop, implement and mainstream comprehensive inclusive SHN policies and programs.
School Health Integrated Programming (SHIP) School Health Integrated Programming (SHIP) School Health Integrated Programming (SHIP) School Health Integrated Programming (SHIP)

The initiative has developed a suite of manuals and training guidelines to support the education sector in designing an SHN program. The guidelines cover operationalizing school-based deworming and eye health programs, and include a teacher's handbook for supporting inclusive SHN in the classroom and at school.

Use evidence to advocate for school health and nutrition

Noy Sidavong -Department of Early Childhood Education, Ministry of Education and Sports, Laos

Phanyathip Lathasing - Suvannakhet Teacher Training College, Laos

Sitthideth Saengsouly - Dept. of Education, Provincial Education and Sports Service, Laos

Noy Sidavong and Sitthideth Saengsouly discussing Laos's action plan with PCD's Dr Laura Appleby.

Noy Sidavong and Sitthideth Saengsouly discussing Laos's action plan with PCD's Dr Laura Appleby.

Credit: Francis Peel

"The course provides a lot of evidence and information on how countries have strengthened their school health programs and policies. We were able to critically assess SHN provision in Laos and use the experiences of other countries to identify ways to strengthen our own programs. We'll be taking back a number of ideas and approaches to implement once we get back. In Laos, we have high primary school dropout rates, in part due to poor health of the children. In the action plan we developed at the end of the week, we've targeted increasing school-based health screening as a means to identify and treat health issues before they force children to drop out.

There is only a small budget for SHN in Laos so we will need to advocate for funding to support any new screening initiatives. We'll put forward a case to ministry which, using the tools and knowledge presented throughout the week by the course tutors and professors, shows the positive impact that SHN can have on health and education of children." We'll be presenting a report to the ministry containing the impact of different SHN interventions on educational outcomes and the knock-on effect it has on the wider economy. We'll also be advocating for SHN at a range of meetings highlighting the gaps in terms of strengthening SHN programs. Learnings from the course will be included in the teacher training programs run at both national and regional levels."

Optimizing education outcomes: High-return investments in school health for increased participation and learning

Resources you can use:

  • Child and Adolescent Health and Development Vol. 8 in Disease Control Priorities Ed 3
    The latest research findings and evidence for the impact of school health and nutrition have beenrecently published in a volume of Disease Control Priorities 3rd Edition. This seminal publication is updated once a decade and contains chapters looking at all the issues affecting the health and development of children and adolescents aged 5-19. Download this publication.
  • Lectures and handout materials
    All the materials and lectures presented at the 7th Asia SHN training course are available for download from In addition to the lectures, presentations from a special symposium on Mainstreaming Inclusive School Health & Nutrition are available for download.


The Asia SHN course was run in partnership with the Asian Centre of International Parasite Control (ACIPAC) at Mahidol University's Faculty of Tropical Medicine in Parasitic Disease Control, the Japan Consortium for Global School Health Research (JC-GSHR) and the Partnership for Child Development (PCD) at Imperial College London, with support from Sightsavers, the Global Partnership for Education and the World Bank.

The Symposium on Mainstreaming Inclusive School Health & Nutrition was supported by GPE, Sightsavers, PCD and the World Bank with funding from the Global Partnership for Education as part of the School Health Integrated Programming Initiative.

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South Asia: Bhutan, Lao PDR, Nepal

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