x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 September 2017

Target number set for doctors and nurses at private schools

Schools in Sharjah will be required to have a nurse for every 750 students and a doctor for every 1,000.

SHARJAH // All private schools in Sharjah will have a resident nurse for every 750 pupils and a resident doctor for every 1000 pupils, authorities have announced.

The decision, reached in a meeting this week of a committee overseeing school health, will go into effect in the second term of 2012.

The committee is composed of members of the Sharjah Health Zone, Sharjah Education Zone and Sharjah Municipality, said Sheikh Mohammed bin Saqar Al Qassimi, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, director of the medical zone and chairman of the committee.

"The meeting made several important recommendations, including asking the education zone to ensure that schools had sufficient nurses and doctors to oversee the health of all the students," he said. "The requirement is 750 students to one resident nurse and 1000 students to one resident doctor, all uncompromised, starting from next year."

School doctors would also be required to hold first-aid training courses for school staff and pupils and raise awareness of how to handle emergencies.

Mr Al Qassimi said the committee had asked the Ministry of Education not to renew licences of doctors who did not register their periodic visits to schools.

It also announced that from next year, a health award would be up for grabs for the school in the emirate that had the best health practices.

Dr Amna Alwan, the director of the school health section at the medical zone and vice chairwoman of the committee, said the number of pupils in private schools was increasing. The committee was keen to ensure that health services and schools grew at the same rate, she said.

In the 2009-10 academic year, there were 85,993 pupils in 76 private schools with 76 clinics, 25 doctors and 86 nurses. The number of pupils in 2010-2011 increased to 113,964, while the number of schools and clinics remained the same. The number of nurses, however, increased to 129.

For the 2011-2012 academic year, everything increased: there are 117,000 pupils, 84 schools and 110 clinics with 36 doctors and 155 nurses.

Dr Alwan said even though there were improvements, there were still concerns on the number of clinics and health workers each school had.

"For example, there is a school with nearly 7,000 students that has just four clinics. Yet it should have about seven clinics, and this is what we are not going to accept," she said.

Najjah Eissa Khalil, a head teacher at Ansar International Private School, said the committee's decision was important, since activities such as sports could lead to injuries that required attention from an on-site nurse or doctor.

"There are also emergencies that would require a nurse attending to a student before he is transferred to a hospital, in case the emergency was big," she said.

There were concerns among some head teachers, such as Latifa Barakat of Shola Private School, about having female doctors working on site at girls schools, as female doctors mostly live with their families.

"It's easier to find a male doctor to work and stay at a school than a female one," she said.

ykakande@thenational.ae