UNESCO Chair Global Health and Education Health Education, Prevention, Health Promotion, Children and Young People

Article: Supporting every school to become a foundation for healthy lives

Published in the Lancet on Friday 22 January 2021

This recent article in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health[1] is both an advocacy tool and a roadmap for building bridges between education and health and enabling the development of intersectoral practices in schools.

Child and adolescent health is influenced by a complex set of cultural, environmental, social and economic factors. Schools, as an educational setting where children spend a large part of their daily lives, have an important influence on the health and wellbeing of students. The discussions about reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic have shown the interconnectedness of health and education inequalities.

The article takes stock of the available evidence on school health interventions and the conditions necessary for their effectiveness and sustainability. It calls for an educational look at health issues. It reminds us that to improve health and reduce inequalities, all pupils must attend school from an early age and for as long as possible, and that their success at school must be maximised. Coherence between policies, structures and systems, human resources and practices in each school is necessary to improve school and health outcomes. Finally, it shows that health professionals can be catalysts for structural change and act as vehicles for cross-sectoral implementation of reforms and innovations in school systems to promote the health of all students.

Read the article and the editorial of the Lancet

[1] Jourdan, D., Gray, N. J., Barry, M. M., Caffe, S., Cornu, C., Diagne, F., El Hage, F., Farmer, M. Y., Slade, S., Marmot, M., & Sawyer, S. M. (2021). Supporting every school to become a foundation for healthy lives. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(20)30316-3