St Mary’s Ulga Primary School in the Nebilyer area of Western Highlands will be the school in the province to have a province-wide health-promoting school program launched.
The program is aimed at encouraging all schools in the province to think health and promote healthy lifestyles. It is nationally-driven by the Departments of Education and Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization to encourage everyone to live healthy lives.
The program which has been endorsed by the Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority Board of Governance is part of the Healthy Island concept and also includes healthy home/village, healthy market and healthy workplace.
Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority Chief Executive Officer, Dr. James Kintwa announced that the launching of the school health program would take place at Ulga Primary School when accepting vegetables donated by the school recently to feed in-patients at Mt Hagen Hospital.
Staff from the WHPHA would spend time at the Ulga Primary School to assess on set criterias and help the school meet all the healthy school criterias before it is recognized formally as a healthy school during the launching of this province-wide Health-promoting School program.
The students and teachers gathered garden produce such as kaukau, bananas, pineapples, cabbages, onions and other vegetables to donate to Mt Hagen Hospital In return for free treatment for the children.
Headmaster, Mr. James Lyando said the idea was to have an arrangement in place between his school and the hospital, similar to the ones currently in place between certain city schools and the hospital for children to show their identification cards and receive prepaid treatment.
Dr. Kintwa said such arrangement was no longer necessary as the Government’s Free Primary Health Care Policy had been implemented in the province as of March, meaning all rural health facilities including church-run facilities would now provide free treatment to everyone.
He said however that not all health services would be free, adding that people would still pay some fees for secondary health services provided in hospitals such as advanced surgery but at a reduced cost.
Dr. Kintwa said all health facilities such as aid-posts, community health posts, health sub-centres and health centres including church-run facilities should by now be treating people free of charge as directed by the government. He said if any facility was not doing so, his office should be notified on telephone number 73018397 so that this facility would be asked to explain.
“You are close to Togoba Health Centre so go there for treatment unless you are referred to Mt Hagen Hospital for specialist treatment. Mt Hagen is now a regional referral hospital for the Highlands region and if you go there without being referred, you will be sent back to Togoba.
“I am honoured to come to your school and talk to you about health today. You children can be change agents for health in your families and communities and I want you to say to yourselves that one day you could become a doctor like me or an accountant or engineer so have high goals and work hard in your study to achieve these dreams”, he said.
Dr. Kintwa thanked the teachers and children for donating the food to the Hospital and announced that Ulga Primary School would be the school to have the province-wide health-promoting school program launched when it kicks off in the coming weeks.