A coordinated response to the needs of the learner: How deworming and school meals together will contribute to the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic

5 September 2022
Carol Karutu1, Linda Schultz2*, Johannes Waltz3, Suzy J. Campbell4, Kimberly Kamara5, Kelly Yotebieng5, Anouk Gouvras6, David Rollinson6 and Donald A. P. Bundy2 1END Fund, Nairobi, Kenya 2Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom 3Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany 4END Fund, Brisbane, QLD, Australia 5END Fund, New York, NY, United States 6Global Schistosomiasis Alliance, London, United Kingdom

Over 65 countries have committed to the School Meals Coalition, established at the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, with the specific goals of restoring national school meals and complementary school health programs to pre-pandemic coverage by 2023. It is critical for public health actors to utilize schools to implement public health initiatives to reach large numbers of children and ensure these students can effectively participate in school as healthy learners. Evidence demonstrates that breaking down silos and integrating health programs into school settings can reap enormous benefits in both health and education outcomes for school-aged children. School-based MDAs are an example of cross-sector collaboration that responds to the needs of the learner. Supporting education and behavior change within the school system for the purpose of effecting long-term, sustainable reduction of NTDs is also crucial. Together, these actions support the learner and learning, and are central to the recovery of these nations from the COVID pandemic.

Research Behaviour change Implementation