Ayushman Bharat School Health Ambassador Initiative: Nearly two years after the launch of the School Health Programme, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), along with Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, has prepared a curriculum for the School Heath Ambassadors. The development was announced jointly by Union Minister of Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ and Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday during the release of the curriculum. The School Health Programme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2018 under the Ayushman Bharat Programme.
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Under the scheme, two teachers, preferably one male and one female, will be appointed as Health and Wellness Ambassadors, who will teach students about the promotion of health as well as prevention of diseases. On the occasion of the release of the curriculum, Pokhriyal said that teachers are the most significant catalysts of change among students and hence have been chosen as the ambassadors to disseminate information and awareness regarding health to students. These sessions will be activity-based in order to promote joyful learning and will be held for one hour every week over 24 weeks in a year.
NCERT and the ministries have also prepared the training material for the ambassadors in line with the Sustainable Development Goals – 3 (SDG-3).
Dr Harsh Vardhan enlisted the 11 themes of the curriculum and the training material. The identified themes are emotional wellbeing and mental health, growing up healthy, interpersonal relationships, gender equality, values and responsible citizenship, nutrition, health and sanitation, promotion of healthy lifestyles, prevention and management of substance misuse, safety and security against violence and injuries, reproductive health and HIV prevention, and promotion of safe use of internet, media and social media.
He further said that this programme is in addition to the ongoing Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), which is a health screening programme being carried out by RBSK teams, and the provision of health services like IFA, Albendazole and sanitary napkins.
Apart from having teachers as ambassadors, the programme will also have class monitors playing the role of Health and Wellness Messengers who would assist the two ambassadors.
Initially, the curriculum will be implemented in the public upper primary, secondary and senior secondary schools of those districts which volunteer. The remaining districts will be covered in the second year. For the training purposes, the NCERT has constituted a 40-member National Resource Group (NRG). All the NRG members are well trained and experienced in Adolescent Health and they will further train State Resource Groups comprising of six persons from each selected district at the five Regional Institute of Education (RIE) at Mysore, Shillong, Bhubaneshwar, Ajmer and Bhopal.
Earlier, in 2018, the Centre had also released an operational guideline handbook for programme managers to ensure proper implementation of the scheme.