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
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.