ABU DHABI // From information highlighting the dangers of smoking to tips on how to help an anxious child, a new website is aiming to raise awareness of health issues among pupils and their parents.
Ambulatory Healthcare Services (AHS), a part of Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha), launched the site in time for the start of the school academic year.
The aim is to improve the health of schoolchildren in the emirate, said Dr Najah Mustapha, the director of School Health Services in Abu Dhabi for AHS.
“What we are focusing on is health awareness and, hopefully, once they have the knowledge and we are reinforcing it in schools through our school nurses, the behaviour will really change and the children will be healthier,” she said.
This, in turn, will improve learning, she added.
The website, shs.ahs.ae, has dedicated sections for children, teenagers and parents.
Categories include nutrition and exercise, personal health – covering oral hygiene, head lice and hand washing – immunisation, smoking and health conditions such as appendicitis, the common cold and food poisoning.
The teenage segment, in particular, focuses on issues such as dealing with peer pressure and anxiety. The website also incorporates frequently asked questions to address the common concerns of parents, teachers and pupils.
Parents and children are also encouraged to contact the service through a “Talk to Us” section.
“We want students and parents to tell us their concerns and send their testimonials and really share with us whatever is going on,” said Dr Mustapha, a Canadian. “What are their concerns? What do they want us to focus on?”
Parents have already asked for advice through the website, which launched this month.
Issues have included an unhappy child not wanting to go to school and another suffering from frequent nosebleeds.
“Many times we might advise them to go to a paediatrician,” explained Dr Mustapha.
“If the student is in our school, we can directly communicate. We can talk to the school nurse and find out exactly what’s happening.”
Another aim of the site is to improve the bond between parent and child, by giving advice on how to address certain behaviour, such as smoking.
School nurses will be encouraged to share successful initiatives.
“For example, obesity is a challenge in the country,” Dr Mustapha said. “If they have done a very small initiative in a certain school and have had a huge success, we would like them to share it with others.”
The website is available in both Arabic and English and can be accessed by everyone.
“It is a new era and technology is one of the main vehicles that transmits ideas – be it among parents, students or whoever,” she said.
According to School Health Services’ statistics on government schools in Abu Dhabi, asthma is the “number one” chronic disease and diabetes is second.
Health screening of pupils at ages 6, 10 and 14, conducted by Seha, has also found 29 per cent to be overweight or obese in the past three years.
Dental health has also been noted as a problem.