Exams led to schools missing health checks
Health inspectors only assessed 70 out of 142 schools on Upolu in the last quarter of last year while schools on Savai’i missed out altogether.
A Ministry of Health (MOH) report titled “Communicable Diseases Surveillance Bulletin December 2018” said its schools spot check program was affected by the unavailability of officers from the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (MESC), due to the 2018 school examination period.
“The monitoring visits were restricted to one quarter of all schools in Samoa because the MESC had a busy schedule regarding SPECA (Samoa Primary Education Certificate Assessment) and other national examinations. The MOH staff had concurrent health events taking place, the proposal was not endorsed for Savai’i,” the report stated.
As part of the MOH-MESC collaboration, the environment health and sanitation officer checks school sanitary facilities, while the health education and promotion officer inspects tobacco control in terms of promoting and enforcing a smoke-free and safe environment in schools. The nutritionist checks for food standards in school canteens.
For the schools that were inspected, the report said that there was a “slight improvement” in sanitation, except for the inadequate supply of water in some areas.
“We observed improving standards at schools poorly maintained in previous years.”
However, two schools were put on notice in terms of the standards of their toilets and bathrooms, according to the report.
“As of this visit, two schools were strongly recommended to carry out immediate action in their privy accommodation (toilets/bathrooms) since it was very unhygienic and insanitary.”
In terms of the schools’ knowledge of infectious diseases and their prevention and their link to sanitary conditions, the report said most schools visited were aware.
“It is more important because schools are often more than just places for learning and behaviour change. It is therefore important that every school in Samoa must access and have proper and hygienic sanitary facilities,” the report added.
The report said out of the 70 schools visited on Upolu, 61 schools were overall satisfactory in terms of sanitary condition and nine schools were categorised unsatisfactory.