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19 July 2024

Ministry of Health and Prevention launches Back-to-School Health Awareness Campaign

  • ommunity Events: Six health-focused events in shopping malls across the UAE
  • Virtual Engagements: Lectures tailored for parents at workplaces and educational institutions
  • Interactive Learning: Introducing the '5210' Interactive Activity Corner for Children
  • Campaign Duration: Scheduled from August 17 to 31.
  • Healthy Eating: Guidelines on Preparing Nutritious School Lunch Bags

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has launched a back-to-school health awareness campaign from August 17 to 31 to equip parents and students with insights into the significance of adopting healthy lifestyles as they return to school, emphasizing the benefits of physical activity, a balanced diet, regulated sleep patterns, and controlled electronic screen time.

In collaboration with the Ministry's representative offices across the UAE, six community events were held at Lulu Hypermarkets. Additionally, an exclusive awareness session was organized specifically for MoHAP employees.

These events involved a series of activities, including healthy cooking workshops for parents and children, guided by expert chefs, where they learned how to prepare nutritious school meals. Nutritionists provided participants with tips on how to preserve food in school lunch bags during prolonged school hours. They also introduced parents to the 5210 health concept, which emphasizes five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, an hour of physical activity, limiting screen time to under two hours, and avoiding sugary and energy drinks.

Moreover, the events featured discussions with health educators on packing a balanced school lunch, body mass index (BMI) screenings, health counseling for parents, and engaging quizzes. To complement these activities, health prescription booklets were distributed, and virtual awareness workshops were conducted for students' families and employers, underscoring the Ministry's commitment to holistic health and wellness as students gear up for the academic year.

The campaign came in line with MoHAP’s overarching strategy aimed at managing community health and preventative programs, uplifting the quality of life, bolstering public health, and fostering a society that's informed, safe, and keenly health-aware. Moreover, the initiative highlighted the importance of health-conscious practices for students and parents, ensuring they're adopted and maintained within the school setting. As students prepare to resume classroom learning, the Ministry reaffirmed its commitment to offering pertinent information and tools, closely collaborating with educational entities to secure a safe and health-oriented environment.

Furthermore, a significant aspect of the campaign focused on increasing awareness of seasonal influenza and other respiratory diseases. By partnering closely with educational and health entities nationwide, the initiative helped bolster preventive efforts by encouraging the community to actively engage in annual vaccination drives, ensuring both heightened vaccine coverage and protection against the ever-evolving viruses.

School Health Promotion

HE Dr. Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for the Public Health Sector, said that the newly launched campaign, a synergized effort with both governmental and private entities, falls under the umbrella of the 'Health-Promoting Schools' initiative launched by the World Health Organization and UNESCO to holistically enhance the health and well-being of students. By endorsing innovative programmes centred around nutrition and physical activities, we are not only catering to their immediate health needs but also fortifying their futures in harmony with our National Nutrition Strategy.

"As the school bells chime once more, our priority will continue to be furnishing both students and educators with the right tools and knowledge to foster a safe and health-conscious environment. The Ministry's collaboration with educational institutions is not just cursory but deep-rooted, stemming from a shared goal: to emphasize the role of proper nutrition in our schools. After all, a nutritious diet doesn't just affect a child's physical growth; but is integral to their cognitive development and academic performance. Together, we strive to lay the foundations of a lifestyle that prioritizes health, thereby enriching both the body and mind of our nation's future." Al Rand added.

Healthy lifestyle 

For her part, Nouf Khamis, Director of the Health Promotion Department at the Ministry, underscored the importance of the back-to-school health awareness initiative. “Collaboratively launched with multiple partners, the initiative aligns with the Ministry's broader goals: to foster healthy habits and active lifestyles among students, ensure a health-conscious school environment, and manage electronic screen usage. All these measures are guided by the principles of the National Strategies for Nutrition, Wellbeing, and Combating Obesity in Children.” Khamis noted.

Clarifying the multifaceted approach of the campaign, Khamis said that its primary objectives are not only to introduce students to varied food groups and emphasize the value of healthy eating habits but also to highlight the benefits of consistent physical activity. In addition, the campaign has incorporated interactive sessions specifically tailored for children and offers BMI assessments for parents. It will also focus on healthy recipes that prioritize locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. To ensure widespread reach, the campaign strategically utilizes various communication avenues, ranging from social media and educational establishments to healthcare centers and shopping complexes.