Schools told to watch for diseases hinh anh 1Students wash hands before lunch at Son Tay Primary School in Hanoi (Photo:
Many contagious diseases can appear and spread out on a large scale in the coming school year, such as dengue fever, hand-foot-mouth (HFM) disease, flu and newly emerging catastrophic diseases like MERS-CoV and Ebola, the Ministry of Health said on August 27.

The Preventive Medicine Department called on the mass media to strengthen communication activities on diseases and epidemics in schools.

"The country now has more than 20 million students studying in 40,000 schools, which has created favorable environments for the development of contagious diseases," said Deputy Director of the Preventive Medicine Department Truong Dinh Bac.

"If the schools do not ensure environmental hygiene, there will be a big threat to students' health," Bac said. Besides the danger of infectious diseases, Bac also warned about the upward trend of illnesses happening in schools such as obesity, scoliosis, mental disorders.

"Although they are not contagious diseases, they are a worrying problem now," Bac insisted.

"As many as 35 percent of the students are suffering from shortsightedness which tends to increase lately, especially in urban areas," Bac said, adding that obesity is also a serious problem in school age children because they can gradually lead to cancer, diabetes and heart disease in adulthood.

Bac pointed out one of the deep reasons for this situation was that many schools fail to meet hygiene standards, especially in remote areas. Besides, many localities have not really paid proper attention to school health issues.

"Half of the schools in the country don't have specialist medical workers. Most of the medical staffs were physicians and nurses," Bac pointed out.

He also alleged that some school medical workers did not understand their responsibilities, and many thought their duty was only to take care of sick students.

In reality, their positions also encompass the responsibility to periodically inspect students' health and school hygiene to detect disease at early stages, he said.

In a bid to improve the status quo, Bac insisted that the communication activities of the mass media on changing community behavior should go ahead of disease prevention measures.

In addition, the health and education sectors need to strengthen their inspection of school health care including food safety, dental care, optical care and first aid capabilities.

Bac noted that schools and localities must actively conduct preventive methods, while hand-washing and vaccinations against disease should also be improved.

"People should be made aware about infectious disease prevention measures with a focus on washing hands with soap before meal times and after using the toilet, this is a simple but highly effective action," Bac said.

"In primary schools, the students are told to wash hands with soap before lunchtime, brush teeth after meals and wash faces after taking naps according to the hygiene standard," Le Manh Hung, Deputy Director of the Student Work Department under the Ministry of Education told the Nguoi Lao Dong (The Labourer) newspaper.-VNA