Reporting day: 2023/7/21/
Reporter: Akihiro Nishio
I have been working as a school health consultant at the WHO Western Pacific Reginal Office (WPRO) (in Manila) from 1 July 2022 to 31 May 2023. Within WPRO, school health is handled by the Division of Healthy Environments and Populations, a lifestyle-related disease unit that mainly deals with chronic diseases.
Even so, it is a small unit with only one full-time staff in the unit that deals with the major theme of lifestyle-related diseases, and consultants who are temporarily assigned.
As a consultant in charge of school health, I planned and conducted training programs for Pacific Island countries. Within the department, there is even a unit that deals only with tobacco control, so you can see how little the department deals with lifestyle-related diseases and, by extension, school health.
Because of this system, WPRO does not have a grasp of the current school health situation in each country, and release only abstract regional guidelines or frameworks which are created from the guidelines sent from the WHO headquarter.
Also, WHO by its very nature has links with ministries of health, but does not have links with ministries of education.
This is the same for UNESCO and UNICEF, which are mainly connected to the Ministry of Education. However, even at the WHO regional office, I found that there was no one with knowledge or a clear vision for school health policies in each country.
I thought that if we could stable financial resources in cooperation with Japanese ministries and other agencies, we could become a leader in the field of school health at WHO, UNESCO, and UNICEF.