At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ashanti Regional Health Directorate adopted a school-based approach as one of the risk communication strategies targeted at pupils in the region.
With funding support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Directorate organised a three-day residential training for School-Based Health Coordinators, District School Health Education Officers, Environmental Health Officers, Community Health Nurses, and Health Promotion Officers.
Following the training, School Health Clubs were formed in 16 selected schools in the Kumasi Metro, Asokore Mampong, and Kwadaso Municipalities.
As part of their weekly activities, members of the clubs were equipped with facts on COVID-19 as well as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to be able to educate their peers and relatives as cases of the viral disease surged in the region.
To assess the knowledge, attitude and practice of COVID-19 safety protocols and WASH activities in schools, quiz competitions were held at the school level during club meetings.
Best competitors were selected for inter-municipal competition in both primary and junior high categories.
In the primary category, Yusifiya Primary School, New Amakom Primary A, and Tanoso Anglican C emerged overall best in their various municipalities with Denkyemouso JHS, Asem Islamic JHS, and Abdul Samed JHS being adjudged the winners in the junior high category.
A grand finale was therefore held at the GNAT Hall which was witnessed by dignitaries from the Regional Health and Education Directorates, UNICEF, and Traditional Leaders.
Tanoso Anglican C won the primary category with 42 points followed by New Amakom Primary A (40) and Yusifiya Primary School (39) as first and second runner-up, respectively.
In the junior high category, Denkemmuoso JHS won with 71 points followed by Abdul Samed Islamic (63) and Asem Islamic JHS (56) in that order.
All the six participating schools received prizes including trophies, medals, and UNICEF branded souvenirs.
Dr Emmanuel Tinkorang, the Regional Director of Health Services congratulated the contestants for exhibiting comprehensive knowledge about COVID-19 and other related health issues.
He said engaging children on health issues at the basic school level was the best form of national orientation because they would practice them as they grew.
He reminded the pupils and the public that the pandemic was not over and counselled them to continue to observe the safety protocols.
Madam Charity Nikoi, UNICEF Team Lead for Social and Behavioral Change, said the funding which was from the Governments of Canada and Denmark was originally meant for behavioural change, but as a child-centred organisation, UNICEF decided to dedicate part of it to sensitise school children.
She said children were also agents for change and that it was important to involve them in behavioural change efforts to achieve long-term results.
She commended all the various stakeholders who participated in the quiz from the school level to the grand finale and urged them to sustain the education on health issues at all levels.